When I was young, history classes were usually focused on presenting the past as a collection of important events–battles, conquests, treaties, discoveries, and inventions. While it was all interesting, I've always felt something was missing. What did the everyday life of sailors look like? How did people deal with ailments before anesthesia? What would women do during their periods? Were children having as much fun as they do today? What were the burial practices of our ancestors?

This thirst for knowledge has never ceased and I became an adult engrossed in books, documentaries, and other media which showed me the less glorious, but much more intriguing side of history. I was especially fascinated with the Victorian era–its perfect blend of scientific progress, bizarre practices, and questionable individuals.

Of course, I wanted to share all this knowledge with others, but it quickly turned out that not everyone is up to discussing bloodletting methods and vintage underwear during the office lunch break. And that is why I've created Veinity Fair, a comic strip with unusual trivia and a dash of dark humor, fueled by morbid curiosity!

If you want to learn more about the stories presented in the comics or resources, check out the Veinity Fair social media and website!

More info: Facebook | Instagram | twitter.com | veinityfair.com

#1

Semmelweis' Advice

Semmelweis' Advice

While working in Vienna General Hospital in the 1840s, Ignaz Semmelweis noticed a curious thing – the mortality rate of new mothers was a lot higher in wards supervised by doctors compared to those supervised by midwives. After some investigating, he found the source of the problem – only doctors had access to both maternity wards and autopsy tables. Semmelweis quickly developed a theory of what he called "cadaverous particles" and introduced rigorous handwashing in his clinics. Unfortunately, even though his method worked spectacularly well, he was ridiculed by most of the medical professionals until his death in a lunatic asylum.

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glowworm2
Community Member
4 months ago

"Gentleman!" he insists while holding his knife in his mouth and wiping the blood all over his apron. XD!

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#2

John Snow

John Snow

John Snow was an English physician, best known for finding the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho, 1854. By putting all known cholera cases on a map, he found the source of all troubles – a contaminated water pump. Why was it such a big deal? This discovery not only led to shutting down the pump, but also worked in favor of the budding germ theory of disease. Even though Snow himself didn't know that at the time, he contributed to the birth of epidemiology.

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CaptainDinosaur
Community Member
4 months ago

This is one of my favorite stories.

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#3

Crinoline

Crinoline

Crinolines were hugely popular in the second half of the 19th century, since their fairly light construction allowed women to play with fashion and big dress shapes without the need to carry the weight of several petticoats (as it was done earlier). This vast popularity of crinolines among women of all classes led to coining the word 'crinolinemania' and numerous caricatures in the media. And while there were some hazards connected with wearing crinolines, especially in factories or near an open fire, they were definitely great at providing some personal space.

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Flare
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

Who else thinks that this would work for personal space problems even in the present day?

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#4

Mercury & Mad Hatter

Mercury & Mad Hatter

Erethism, more commonly known as mad hatter disease, is caused by mercury poisoning and can cause a variety of symptoms including tremors, timidness, anxiety, and even hallucinations. It was quite common among hat-makers as they were exposed to mercury used in the manufacturing of felt hats. Even though the Hatter from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland doesn't display all of these symptoms, his creation might have been inspired by erethism. We know that Lewis Carroll's uncle, Robert Wilfred Skeffington Lutwidge, was a Lunacy Commissioner supervising Pauper Lunatic Asylums. To keep patients busy, these asylums often organized group activities such as...tea parties.

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Becca Gizmo the Squirrel
Community Member
4 months ago

That is an awesome tidbit of history!

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#5

Arsenic Shopping

Arsenic Shopping

There were no regulations on buying and selling arsenic until 1851, and even then it could be relatively easy purchased by anyone who didn't cause any suspicion.

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A Lazy Spider
Community Member
4 months ago

That's just...

Roadkill The Brave
Community Member
4 months ago

They put Cocaine in cough syrup. Different times.

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Eirik Johnsbråten
Community Member
4 months ago

Not unlike selling guns in the US...

TheKnightOwl
Community Member
4 months ago

Whilst some state may differ, it can be quite difficult to purchase a gun in many US states. It's unpopular to say as such though.

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SoozeeQ
Community Member
4 months ago

In particular, female serial killers of the 19th and early 20th century often used poison as a means of executing their partners. "Arsenic poisoning was often mistaken for cholera," explains science writer John Emsley, author of The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison. Not only is arsenic flavourless and odourless, it was also cheap and commonly available at that time. Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook, claims that Mary Ann Cotton was the world's most renowned "arsenic murderess." Between 1865 and 1873 in the North of England, she murdered three of her four husbands, as well as a lover, to collect on their insurance policies. It's believed that she could've killed up to 21 victims—including 11 of her 13 children—and was ultimately hanged for her crimes. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xy747z/a-brief-history-of-women-putting-poison-in-their-lovers-food

Natalie Scott
Community Member
4 months ago

In the 19th century arsenic was used in women's facial products. Pale skin was prized, and nothing made you paler than a little arsenic poisoning. It was briefly in vogue as a 'health' tonic for both men and women. Arsenic gave a rich green color to dyes that were used in wallpaper, furniture and women's dresses. Imagine dancing the night away in yards and yards of heavy material loaded with a deadly poison that made you viciously ill. No wonder they never smiled in photographs.

Beatrix CHOI
Community Member
4 months ago

Luckily people like a nice healthy tan now

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Sherry Findlay
Community Member
4 months ago

It was even in some so-called "remedies" that you could purchase from the apothecary. Wild!

Pusfarm
Community Member
4 months ago

We can add that to the list with heroin, cocaine, opium and other now-banned remedies of the time. I'm sure heroin really did take care of cold symptoms, if not the actual cold!

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Micah Patchen
Community Member
4 months ago

Arsenic was called "inheritance powder". It was in every house because of rats, but was also used a lot to get grandpa to die faster to get inheritance.

Seabeast
Community Member
4 months ago

It was also eaten in small quantities by women who wanted pale translucent skin, believe or not.

Karen Klinck
Community Member
4 months ago

Because white lead,used in previous times, also killed you slowly, but more important, left you with a pockmarked skin--which you of course covered up by putting your white lead powder on more heavily.

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BlackRabbit
Community Member
4 months ago

Buttered Bread with Arsenic. now that's Nostalgic

Karen Klinck
Community Member
4 months ago

Arsenic And Old Lace.

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BG
Community Member
4 months ago

You can still buy arsenic rat poison, unregulated. Also, arsenic comes from apple seeds.

Jon S.
Community Member
4 months ago

Apple seeds are famous for their cyanide content. I've never heard they contain arsenic, although apparently apples are particularly good at absorbing arsenic in pesticides.

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Jacob Talbott
Community Member
4 months ago

This comment has been deleted.

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#6

Three Little Kittens

Three Little Kittens

“…It was an age of high infant mortality. Even picture books prepared children for the melancholy realities.”

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Becca Gizmo the Squirrel
Community Member
4 months ago

All nursery rhymes have a creepy backstory.

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#7

Add Some Wax

Add Some Wax

The Edwardian Era brought a new craze in plastic surgery – paraffin wax injections. The promise of a perfect nose or chin quickly faded, when it turned out that wax could wander beneath the skin causing infections, blood clots, and even cancer.

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Chris DiFonso
Community Member
4 months ago

Yikes

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#8

Stethoscope

Stethoscope

The invention of the stethoscope was inspired by a rather embarrassing moment in a young French doctor's life.

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Juririn
Community Member
4 months ago

A good example of how setting boundaries brought innovation and scientific progress :)

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#9

Bell

Bell

Safety coffins designs were mostly created during the 18th and 19th centuries, when the fear of being buried alive was quite common, due to numerous epidemics and popular fiction.

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Pretty Pangolin
Community Member
4 months ago

Yes! I actually just wrote a short story about this (It's a Gothic melodrama - the guy gets accidentally buried alive during a Typhoid epidemic, but he's saved by his friends and his girlfriend's ghost).

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#10

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley

After her husband's death, Mary Shelley kept his calcified heart in a desk drawer. And even though some modern scholars believe it was just his liver, Mary herself was convinced that she had Percy's heart. Quite a suitable keepsake for the author of Frankenstein!

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martin734
Community Member
4 months ago

Percy Shelley's heart, along with the remains of his sister Shelley now lie in the graveyard of St Peter's Church in Bournemouth. I know this church well and have visited it several times as I live only 7 miles away In Poole.

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#11

Trains!

Trains!

At the turn of the twentieth century, a new form of dangerous and very costly entertainment appeared... staged train crashes. Thousands of Americans would appear at these events, watching the crashes and collecting "souvenirs" from the wrecks. This craze lasted for almost 40 years!

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Sherry Findlay
Community Member
4 months ago

Awful! Who on earth did they convince to drive those trains?

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#12

Belladonna Drops

Belladonna Drops

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martin734
Community Member
4 months ago

In the UK Belladonna is known by the name "Deadly Nightshade" due to it's very high toxicity. Although the main chemical compound in Belladonna, Atropine, is used to treat chemical weapon and pesticide poisoning as well as some heart conditions.

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#13

Phossy Jaw

Phossy Jaw

The harrowing conditions in match factories, including the use of highly poisonous white phosphorus, were not a secret in the Victorian times. However, It was not until the matchgirls' strike of 1888 that the situation started to get better.

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Strawberry Hellcat
Community Member
4 months ago

Alas, the situation would repeat itself in the US for the women who painted radium on watch faces and instrument dials.

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#14

Leeches!

Leeches!

Bloodletting used to be one of the most popular medical practices, as it was supposed to bring the balance between the four humors inside the human body and thus treat all ailments, from rashes to tuberculosis.

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Juririn
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

Except leeches are part of modern medicine today for different reasons and purposes

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#15

Amazing Cat Mummies!

Amazing Cat Mummies!

For a few centuries, mummies (both human and feline) were used by some in truly surprising and disturbing ways.

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Max Han
Community Member
4 months ago

Uncle John helped my tomatoes grow and I think he looks good on my table

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#16

Plague Doctor's Advice

Plague Doctor's Advice

Usually Veinity Fair is all about the Victorians, but I just couldn't resist sharing with you some more medieval advice…

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Cho Chang
Community Member
4 months ago

Yeah, that'll help

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#17

Mole

Mole

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A Lazy Spider
Community Member
4 months ago

Oh, gross

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#18

Get Whale Soon

Get Whale Soon

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Becca Gizmo the Squirrel
Community Member
4 months ago

You could also buy a syringe of morphine from the Sears Roebuck and co. Catalogue around 1905.

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#19

Garrotting

Garrotting

Garrotting panics and hysterias appeared in a few major cities in the mid-19th century. A few creative merchants quickly saw profitable opportunities in the public's fear…

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Annabelle Fonseca
Community Member
4 months ago

so thats where it came from hmmm.

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#20

Ether Frolic

Ether Frolic

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CaptainDinosaur
Community Member
4 months ago

"I don't remember doing ether, but then again that is ether's signature move." - Roger Smith

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