I love, love, love old magazines, and thanks to a sharp-eyed friend, an 1889 copy of Lippincott’s magazine came home with me. I couldn’t wait to share some of the “finds” inside with you!
Life was different back in 1889, of course – yet also so much the same. Outdoor recreation was big, for one thing, and naturally you needed the latest, greatest equipment.
Sears Roebuck hadn’t yet launched their fabulous Modern Home “kit” houses; that craze wouldn’t begin until 1908 (and continued until 1940). But for just $52 bucks in 1889 you could buy a complete house (okay, $500 for the higher-end model), no nails or screws required. Held together with iron pins and bolts, it was “portable,” too, and could be “easily put up or taken down without mutilation.” Looks a bit like a predecessor to today’s “tiny homes,” doesn’t it?
The fountain pen and pencil were still the go-to writing instruments. But typewriters of various design were just coming into vogue. The ergonomic model below, for example, boasted the extraordinary typing speed of 172 words per minute. (Questioning minds may question that bold claim.) Pens themselves were such a valuable invention that one court case over Waterman’s patent made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court!
Sapolio promised cleanliness, comfort, and (yes) even happiness from its cleaning product, guaranteeing housewives their husbands would notice the difference. The company wasn’t above throwing out veiled threats, either, hinting that a clean home was necessary to keep a husband from straying. After all, “Man likes comfort, and if he can’t find it at home, he will seek elsewhere for it.”
And yes, we can confirm that women read romance novels, too, even in 1889. Here’s a blurb about Miss Rosa Carey’s newest release. Happily-ever-after ending guaranteed.
I’d hate to trade my modern computer for an 1889 fountain pen. But those intricate Victorian graphics still catch my eye. And that tiny house looks awfully cute.