France

Harriet Howard: Mistress to Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III)

Harriet Howard was born in 1823 as Elizabeth Ann Haryett. She was the daughter of a boot maker who made fashionable footwear for the British aristocracy and in addition her grandfather owned the Castle Hotel in Brighton. It was a coastal resort situated on the southern coast of England where people like Jane Austen and…

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Decorative Hair Combs of the 19th Century

Decorative hair combs date to the earliest of times and were created from all sorts of materials. For instance, ancient combs were made from wood, bones, ivory, feathers, and other natural type materials. Sometimes they were “studded” with gems or painted with designs. These early decorative hair combs were also often flat in construction but…

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Château de Rambouillet, the Estate, and its History

The Château de Rambouillet also known in English as the Castle of Rambouillet, is a château in the town of Rambouillet in northern France about 31 miles southwest of Paris. It was originally a fortified manor that dates to 1368. King Francis I died there in 1547 and during the reign of Louis XVIII it…

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Fouquier-Tinville: Purveyor to the Guillotine

Fouquier-Tinville was born Antoine Quentin Fouquier de Tinville and became a French public prosecutor who, because of his zealous prosecutions during the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, earned the nickname “Purveyor to the Guillotine.” Born in Herouël, a village in the Aisne department, he was the son of a seigneurial landowner. He studied…

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Pug Collectibles and Trinkets in the 1700 and 1800s

Pug collectibles and trinkets were plentiful in the 1700 and 1800s because at the time pugs were a popular dog breed having been introduced beginning in the seventeenth century into Europe from China. “Pugs at this time looked somewhat different than today. They had fewer facial wrinkles, longer legs, and clipped ears, a practice that…

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Wigs: Their Wearers and Eighteenth-Century Anecdotes

In the eighteenth century, those who wore wigs almost always powdered them. By the 1780s, young men were moving away from wigs and were powdering their own natural hair and by the 1790s both wigs and hair powder were used primarily by older, more conservative men, such as Voltaire, whom Madame Tussaud made sure had…

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Eye Miniatures: For Lovers of the 18th and 19th centuries

Eye miniatures became a popular item to exchange among lovers and although the fashion began in the late 1700s it reached its zenith around 1803 or 1804. Among some of the earliest pieces produced was one given by the Prince Regent (the future George IV) to his lover and mistress Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert. The gift…

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Madame de Staël and Madame Récamier: A True Friendship

Madame de Staël and Madame Récamier became friends when Madame de Staël, whose first name was Germaine, was selling her father’s home in Paris. Her father was Jacques Necker, a prominent and popular banker and statesman who served as Director-General of Finance under Louis XVI. He was selling his rue du Mont Blanc home because…

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Fourth of July: Celebrating Independence Day, 1777-1870

The Fourth of July, or Independence Day as it is sometimes called, did not become an official federal holiday anywhere in the United States until the U.S. Congress declared it as such on 28 June 1870 along with three other federal holidays, Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving. Part of the reason it took so long…

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Bonesetters: Joint Manipulators and Musculoskeletal Fixers

Bonesetters of the 1700s and 1800s were like today’s chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists rolled into one. They practiced joint manipulation and fixed musculoskeletal injuries using manual force. Traditionally, these practitioners did not have formal medical training but rather learned their skills on their own or from their family with bone-setting knowledge being passed down…

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