Monday, August 14, 2017

How to Beautify Your Face, 1660

The Gentlewomans Companion, 1682

"An Ointment that takes away all Bunchings and Speckles of the Face. Take of the roots of Ass-cowcumber, white Been, Bryony, Lupines, each half an ounce, Cerusse, Litharge, Tartar, each one dram; Cane-roots, Serapine, Pigeons dung, each two scruples, Oyl of Turky-millet three ounces, Oyl of Juniper, Oyl of Bread-corn, each two ounces and a half; Juice of Orenges four ounces, pouder what is to be pouder'd, and fine searse them, then boyl them all till the Juice is consumed, then take them from the fire, alwayes stirring them with a spattle till they are cold, then add the white of one new laid Egg beaten and streined; Camphure pouder'd one dram, always mixing them, then wash it in one pint of water, prest from yong Canes, washing it ten times in that water, and stirring it with a spattle, and it is excellent." 
Johann Jacob Wecker, Cosmeticks
Look, beauty has a price, and sometimes that price is collecting pigeon droppings and digging the roots of the ass-cowcumber.

Monday, July 3, 2017

How to Make Fireworks, 1633

“Of the making of Rockets and other Fireworkes. For the making of Rockets of sundry kinds, divers molds are to be made, with their Rowling pins, Breathes, Chargers, &c. as may be seene here in the figure. And having rowled a Case of paper upon the Rowling pin for your mould, fill it with the composition belonging to that mould... now may you loade it on the top, with Serpents, Reports, Stars, or Golden Raine... Touching the making of the Golden Raine that is nothing but filling of Quilles with the composition of your Rockets somewhat hard: Now if the head of a Rocket be loaded with a thousand of those Quilles its a goodly sight to see how pleasantly they spread themselves in the Ayre and come down like streames of Gold much like the falling downe of Snow being agitated by a turbulent winde." 
Jean Leurechon (Hendrik van Etten), Mathematicall Recreations
 Gunpowder + a thousand quills = guaranteed to be a goodly sight.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How to Make Fake Coffee, 1868

"Nutritive Coffee," 1862, Library of Congress
Coffee Substitutes. 
The love of coffee is an acquired taste. Perhaps nine tenths of the families using it ‘burn’ it almost to a coal, so that, in reality, any other burnt bitter would answer quite as well. In fact, multitudes in the far West, removed from markets, have become accustomed to use burnt bread-crust as a substitute... The following substitutes for coffee have been collected, in all of which it is suggested, first, that the substitute be mixed with the genuine article, half-and-half; second, that in order to know what you are really drinking, roast and grind your own coffee. In this way only can you know that you are not imposed upon, or may not be drinking some cheap material, either filthy or poisonous... 
Rye Coffee... Take some rye; first, scald it; second, dry it; third, brown it, and then mix it with one third coffee and two thirds rye, and then you will have as good a cup of coffee as you ever drank. 
Sweet-Potato Coffee. – Take sweet potatoes, cut them fine enough to dry conveniently, and when dried, grind in a coffee-mill; dry them by the fire or stove, at this season of the year, or by the sun, when that will do it; grind and use one and a half tea-cupfuls for six persons, or mixed with coffee in such proportions as you like. Some omit half of the coffee, some more. 
Barley Coffee. – Take common barley, or the skinless, if it can be obtained, roast as you would coffee, and mix in such proportion as suits your taste. It is very good. 
Pea Coffee. – It is probably known to many that a very large per cent of the ground coffee sold at the stores is common field-peas, roasted and ground with the coffee. There are hundreds of thousands of bushels of peas annually used for that purpose. Those who are in the habit of purchasing ground coffee can do better to buy their own peas, burn and grind them, and mix to suit themselves. 
Carrot Coffee... Cut up, dry and grind, and mix with coffee in quantities to suit the taste. 
Chestnut Coffee. – Chestnuts, also, are said to make excellent coffee. 
Dandelion root, dried and slightly scorched, never burned. 
Chicory Coffee. – Equal weights of chicory and coffee, dried and roasted in the usual manner. The chicory root is raised as easily as carrots, and in exactly the same manner. To prepare the root, wash it clean, slice it lengthwise in four to six pieces, according to size, cut in two-inch lengths, dry and keep in a dry place until wanted. Chicory is largely used to adulterate coffee...
W. W. Hall, Hall's Health Tracts
  Don't pretend you've never run out of coffee and tried to drink burnt bread-crust juice instead.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Interpret Dreams, 1698

The World Turn'd Upside Down, 1647
"To dream that you: 
Have your Arm dried up, is very unfortunate.
Have a little Beard, shews Suits at Law.
Go over a Ditch upon a small Plank, signifies deceit by Lawyers.
See Dragons, signifies Gain.
Are Drunk, signifies sickness.
See a Gyant, or a large siz'd Person, is a good sign.
Have a new Girdle, signifies Honour.
Have two Heads, signifies Company.
Lose your Keys, signifies Anger.
Are Kiss'd by Men of great Quality, signifies Consolation.
See the Meat you have Eaten, signifies Loss.
Are stark Naked, signifies Loss and Damage in your Estate.
Take hold of ones Nose, signifies Fornication.
See Old Folks, is a bad Sign.
Write on, or read in Paper, signifies News.
Have Rods in your Hands is Jollity.
Eat a Sallad, signifies Evil or Sickness that will happen.
Study the Sciences, signifies Chearfulness.
Drink stinking Water, signifies a Violent Distemper.
Drink Sophisticated Wine, is an extraordinary good Sign.
Piss against a Wall, signifies Assistance in Business." 
The Compleat Book of Knowledge
If you're dreaming about being kissed by men of poor quality, you're on your own.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to Eat Avocados, 1891

“But how is it to be eaten? ... A few simple rules are so necessary for the proper enjoyment of this delicacy... In the first place, it is a rich article, and should be eaten with meals in preference to any other time, and always with bread and butter or delicate crackers... Eat it with a spoon or fork, using salt and pepper, and sometimes lime-juice is thought to be an agreeable addition. The avocádo is most frequently eaten in the above way, and when served with thin slices of bread and butter makes a delicious supplementary course for either breakfast or dinner. To try another method, pour over the pulp, just before eating, a spoonful of sherry wine; add a little sugar, a slight grating of nutmeg, if desired; serve with the invariable accompaniments of bread and butter or crackers.”

Anna M. Paris, “The Avocado, or Alligator Pear,” The American Magazine 

Rules of Avocado Enjoyment: sherry optional, toast ALWAYS.

Monday, May 8, 2017

How to Improve Your Memory, 1562

Margarita Philosophica Nova (1508), Wellcome Library
"To sleepe hosed and shoed especially with foule sockes, doth hinder the Memorie, because of the reflection of the vapours: feebleth the syght, and causeth the body to waxe whote and burne... Feare doth oppresse the Memorie, or endurynge sadnes: also a pensive care of housholde busynesse is hurtfull. Also immoderate sleepe and violent vomiting." 
Guglielmo Gratarolo, The Castel of Memorie 
Frankly, if your sock vapors are foul enough to cause blindness and burning, a poor memory is the least of your problems.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to Study, 1636

Ramelli, Le diverse et artificiose machine (1588)
“The best time for studie is early in the morning, when the Planets be favourable to our purpose… Diligent students… must apply themselves earnestly to reading and meditation for the space of an houre: then to remit a little their cogitation, and in the meane time with an Ivory Combe to kembe their head from the forehead backwards about forty times, and to rub their teeth with a coarse linnen cloth. Then to returne againe to meditation for two houres, or one at the least... As for the residue of the day is convenient rather to revolve things reade before, than to reade or muse of new... Nothing is more hurtfull than studying in the night... notwithstanding I know that such as bee good Students indeed doe spare no time neither night nor day from their bookes... Yet would I have none to study so much, that thereby they should fall into sicknesse, or become melancholick... I counsell all students oftentimes to refresh their wearied minds with some sort of melody. For so shall they drive away the dumps of melancholy, and make their spirits more lively to learne.” 
Thomas Cogan, The Haven of Healthe

Secrets for surviving the semester: astrology, good music, and fabulous hair.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

How to Care For Your Teeth, 1613

L. van Leyden, A Tooth Drawer, 1523 (Wellcome Library)
"To keepe and preserve the teeth cleane. First if they bee very yellow and filthie, or blackish, let a Barber scoure, rubbe, and picke them cleane, and white, then after to maintaine them cleane, it shalbe very good to rub them every day with the roote of a Mallow, and to picke them cleane that no meate remaine and putrifie betweene the teeth.
Item, take of the small white pibble stones which bee found by the water sides, and beate them in very small powder, hereof take an ounce, and of Masticke one dramme, mingle them togeather, and with this powder once in xiiii daies rub exactly your teeth, and this shall keepe your teeth fayre and white: but beware yee touch not, ne vexe the gummes therewithall.
Item, to stable and stedfast the teeth, and to keepe the gummes in good case, it shall be very good every day in the morning, to wash well the mouth with red Wine." 
Thomas Raynalde, The Byrth of Mankinde
If anyone asks about your breakfast wine, just say it's for your dental hygiene.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to Express Your Feelings, 1689

Facepalm Cupid, Andrea Alciato, Emblematum Liber (1534)
Excerpts from The Theatre of Compliments, Or, A Compleat New Academy: 
Expressions of Love and Friendship of Men towards Men.
Sir, I'le repay your love with usury.
Sir, When I contemplate your perfections, I begin to abhor my self for my deficiencies.
Sir, Your great Virtues conquer all hearts as irresistably, as Alexander the Great conquer'd Kingdoms.
Sir, You alone can conduct me to the highest pitch of accidental perfection.
Sir, You have deserv'd more Services from me, than I am ever able to perform.  
Complemental Expressions of Ladies to each other.
Madam, I am forcibly carried away, (I know not by what fate, against the bent of my own Genius).
Madam, You have blasted the harvest of my hopes.
Madam, Nothing shall have power to alien my love from you.
Madam, In the intercourse of affection my love surmounts your's. 
Amorous Expressions of Gentlemen to Ladies, Gentlewomen and Maidens, &c.
Madam, Let the showers of your pity mitigate the fires of my fancy.
Madam, There's a civil assault within me, by which I feel a certain restraint of my own liberty and affections.
Madam, You have no more beauty than will serve to excuse you from being extreamly ugly.
Madam, Your hair negligently dishevell'd, and careless attire, grace forth your beauty; which shines in the midst of so many obstacles, as the Sun in a winter day. 
Expressions of Ladies and Gentlewomen to Gentlemen.
Sir, You are the emblem of terror, and your furious looks are able to consume a woman.
Sir, an ounce of give me, is better than a pound of hear me. 
Sir, I am like a bed of Roses where flowers are mixt with prickles.
Sir, I am not like the Dolphin whom the sound of Musick bringeth to the shore.
Sir, Farewel, you'r grown rude, I dare not hear you further. 
Need a quick sentiment for that greeting card? One of these lines will be perfect for the intercourse of your affection. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to Encrypt a Message, 1641

Giambattista della Porta, De furtivis
litterarum notis
(1591), Folger
"The second way of secrecy in speech, is by an alteration of any knowne language... by augmenting words with the addition of other letters. Of which kind, is that secret way of discoursing in ordinary use, by doubling the vowels that make the syllables, and interposing G. or any other consonant... Thus, if I would say, Our plot is discovered, it must be pronounced thus, Ougur plogot igis digiscogovegereged. Which doe's not seeme so obscure in writing, as it will in speech and pronuntiation. And it is so easie to be learnt, that I have knowne little children, almost as soone as they could speake, discourse to one another as fast this way, as they could in their plainest English. But all these later kinds of secrecy in speech, have this grand inconvenience in them, that they are not without suspition...
There are likewise some other inventions to expresse any inward sence by barbarous words, wherein onely the first, and middle, and last letters shall be significant. As in this example. Fildy, fagodur wyndeeldrare discogure rantibrad. Which in its resolution is no more than this. Fly for we are discovered.
John Wilkins, Mercury, or, The Secret and Swift Messenger
Need to dial up your information security? These TOGOP SEGECREGET techniques will have your plot discovered in no time.

Friday, January 20, 2017

How to Cure Melancholy, c. 1303

J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 42, f. 1v
"The home must be bright, luminous, without pictures, and there should be many fragrant things there, and everyone in the home must be beautiful to behold... and they must say lighthearted things, and there should be musical instruments, and in short everything which gladdens the soul... also helpful are sleep, rest, leisure, and baths before food; helpful foods are hens, capons, and lamb; light, delicate wine; scaly fish from clean water; raw eggs; well-fermented and well-baked wheat bread with a reasonable amount of salt... one should avoid wine that is new, cloudy, coarse, or thick; lentils, beans, and other legumes; old cheese; beef; and other melancholy foods." 
Bernard de Gordon, Lilium medicinae
Feeling melancholy? No problem – just tell your beautiful family to play music and serve you some fine wine in bed.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

How to Interpret Small Hands, 1651

John Bulwer, Chirologia (1644), Folger Shakespeare Library
"The hands very short, doth signifie a gross and rude person: fat and fleshie, with the finger likewise, inclined to theft. Small hands, crafty men." 
Johannes ab Indagine, The Book of Palmistrie and Physiognomy
Well, that settles it. Short fingers = vulgarian.