Activities and Sports

The American Traveler in Victorian Europe

Travel was popular in the Victorian Era and among some of the most prominent travelers to Europe were Americans, nicknamed Yankees. Yankees crossed the seas by steamers and traveled throughout Europe primarily by rail. The most desirable season for Americans to travel varied on the destination. Winter travelers headed to Spain, Italy, or Egypt. June…

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The Bicycle and Fashions for Fall 1898

Bicycling was a popular pastime in the late 1800s, so much so, it ushered in the “bicycle craze,” a craze that was in full swing in Europe and North America by the 1890s. The original bicycling problems that were related to the penny-farthing — comfort, safety, speed, and steering — were essentially resolved by the…

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Foster Powell – The Celebrated Pedestrian

Foster Powell was born in 1734, and when he left his little Yorkshire village of Horseforth, near Leeds, at the age of 26 and headed to London, village inhabitants thought little of him in respect to either his mental or physical capabilities. In fact, he had a reputation “of being a quiet inoffensive lad, shy,…

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Bicycle Face – A Fictitious Disease of the 1800s

Once the bicycling craze took possession of bicyclists, many wheelmen and wheelwomen supposedly began suffering from a disease known as “bicycle face.” Doctors soon gave warnings that women, girls, and middle-aged men should avoid excessive cycling. One explanation as to why bicycle face occurred was that it came about when a cyclist over exerted his…

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Pistol Dueling, Its Etiquette and Rules

Duels of the seventeenth and eighteenth century were conducted primarily with swords, although by the late eighteenth century they were fought with pistols. Fortunately, pistol dueling fell out of fashion by the mid-nineteenth century. However, prior to its demise a “Royal Code of Honor” existed and was adhered to by dueling Principals and Seconds. The…

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Road Etiquette for Victorian Bicyclists

The first real bicycle — a two-wheeled machine, operated by crank-action on a rotating axle — did not appear until the early 1860s, and cycling did not become a widely popular activity until the 1870s. However, once it did become popular it was touted as a way for a person to achieve independence, and, in…

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The Jockey Club 1750-1773

The Jockey Club was established as a high society social club, somewhat similar to a gentleman’s club but for horse owners. It is claimed to have been founded in 1750, although there are some claims it may have been established much earlier. Exactly how it was formed is unclear, but what is clear is that…

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Ice Skating Etiquette

Ice skating was a popular pastime among Britain’s upper and middle classes by the mid 1800s. It was so popular the first attempt at creating artificial ice skating rinks occurred in England in 1841. It required using a mixture of hog’s lard and salts. But these artificial rinks were so smelly, they quickly fell out…

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Kit-Cat or Kit-Kat Club

The Kit-Cat or Kit-Kat Club was an early eighteenth century London club, both literary and gallant, as well as political, and it was the stronghold of the Whigs. An eighteenth-century English bookseller and publisher, Jacob Tonson, sometimes referred to as Jacob Tonson the elder, is claimed to have founded the club. But how the club…

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Tom Cribb – The Bareknuckle Boxer

Tom Cribb was born on a hot summer’s day on 8 July 1781 in the township of Hanham situated about five miles from Bristol. Whether Hanham belonged to Gloucestershire or Somersetshire was in dispute and may have been one reason why Cribb eventually chose a life of contention and became England’s first uncontested champion of…

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