Holmes Sneered. “Pink Pills for Pale People?”

He pointed to a newer looking broadsheet posted to a wall.

Pall Mall Gazette, December 1893

“Watson, I believe you’ve described me as ‘pale’ in at least one of your melodramatic distortions of my cases. Would you recommend Dr. Williams’ concoctions?”

“Not if Dr. Williams paid me.You expose yourself to enough vile poison by means of that needle of yours without my cooperation.”

Pall Mall Gazette, December 1893

Question: What would a blood building or “never failing” tonic contain?

Answer: A tonic “toned” your organs, your nervous system, lungs, circulatory system, heart and your brain. Tonics often contained strychnine, morphine, lithium, or cocaine, described as natural “vegetable” ingredients. As the ads say, you could try it for anything. You might not recover, but no doubt you’d feel different.

If a pale Sherlock Holmes were anemic due to low iron, perhaps it was true that, as he claimed, only the thrill of “the game” brought him to life naturally. “My mind rebels at stagnation,” Holmes rants in Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia. “Give me problems! Give me work. My mind rebels at stagnation.” Jeremy Brett did a horrifically fine job with Conan Doyles’ words, here:

https://youtu.be/dnpD27msy8Q

Real treatments? It wasn’t until 1932 that the relationship between iron deficiency and anemia was discovered. Owbridge’s Lung Tonic, purported to treat consumption (tuberculosis) failed miserably. By 1900 tuberculosis had killed one our of every seven people who had ever lived.* An effective, widely utilized TB vaccine was still more than 50 years away.


*TB in American: 1895-1954, PBS: American Experience

This stuff is fun, quirky, thought-provoking and sometimes hard to get our modern heads around. If you find it as interesting as I do, please follow my blog. Thank you. Susanne Dutton

https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store … Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne M. Dutton, COMING SOON from Propertius Press.

Holmes laughed. “Fifty six years ago, the Queen made a deduction regarding her husband’s hair, Watson.”

Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert Francis Wettin (1819-1861)

He slid the latest Pall Mall Gazette across the breakfast table. “Read it yourself, old man. Just there, below the photograph of the bracelet.”

I found the article.

“After the Prince Consort’s death, Her Majesty had some of his hair made into a bracelet.* Now the Queen stipulated that there were to be no joinings, but this was impossible, the Prince’s hair being too short. However the Queen’s instructions were carried out and the bracelet delivered.

Chancing to be toying with it one day, Her Majesty drew out a hair three times the length of the Prince’s hair; then there was trouble. The bracelet was inspected, and it was found that that while much of it was Prince Albert’s hair, the greater part of it was not.” (The bracelet pictured is such a bracelet, but not that bracelet.)

“Hmm,” I mused. “Let me make another deduction. When one goes about as a ‘Majesty,’ people are going to lie to you to keep you happy.”

Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

The Pall Mall Gazette (February 1897) has more to tell about “hair devices,” as momentos of deceased loved ones. Below is an example from a Swiss gentleman, Antonio Forrer, who developed what we would call a fiber art in the 1840’s, weaving hair and wool.

It seems an English woman spied some of his work while traveling, brought him to London and helped him to set up a work shop in Regent Street, where he developed a successful trade. Before long he offered work to dozens of Swiss women who helped him to meet the demand. When the craze (as the Gazette calls it) was at its height, provision would be specified in wills for mourning brooches, rings, bracelets and earrings, as well as “fiber art” creations for the parlour. In London alone, there were 100 hair-working studios. Below are other examples of Victorian momento mori, a monogramed a bracelet, choker, earrings and wall hanging featuring the deceased woman herself.

This stuff is fun, quirky, thought-provoking and sometimes hard to get our modern heads around. If you find it as interesting as I do, follow my blog. Thank you.

Susanne Dutton

https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store … Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne M. Dutton, soon from Propertius Press

A Woman’s Handwriting? Is there such a thing? Holmes and Lestrade Argue.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Holmes smiled thinly at Lestrade, and set aside the lavender-scented letter with it’s swooping, swirling message.

He said, “Come now, Inspector. Think. I’ll grant you it reads like blackmail, but you have no reason to put it down to a woman. You know as well as I do. One can do wonders with other people’s expectations.”

Pall Mall Gazette Advertisement, December 1893

He flipped open the latest Gazette and pointed to an advertisement. “Goodness knows what this Prof. Muller would do if I applied for a specialist in the lady-civil-servant hand.”

Answer: No such thing!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

An expert agrees:

Wrong question,” says Barnard Collier on Quora. “The right one may be: Why can’t we distinguish between male and female handwriting?

Our company www.graphologyconsulting.com has for almost a quarter century collected, analyzed, and evaluated the handwriting of more than 130,000 medical doctors and nurses worldwide, plus an equal number of people from various professions and walks of life, and among many financial classes, and if there was or is, at present, a way to pinpoint the difference on a gender-based scale, we haven’t found it. Nor has any other expert biometric graphologist, and pattern recognition tests may enjoy a 6 to 4 chance of deducing gender from pixel-level scans and associated algorithms.

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You’re a Consulting Detective, Mr. Holmes? Other Peculiar Occupations c. 1897

The Black Eye Artist

“I suppose I’m the only one,” says Holmes of his occupation, but his was not the only curious occupation at the time. Here are three other instances as identified by Balliol Bruce in a Feb., 1897 Pall Mall Gazette article on the topic.

The photo above shows Mr. W. Clarkson, a black eye artist of seventeen years experience. Tools include greasepaint of two hues, lily powder, and carmine. The unaffected eye is painted to match. The process takes about half an hour and lasts for a week. Mr. Clarkson gave a few examples of the assortment of antics that bring patrons to his door.

  • A solicitor wanted a black eye painted out before entering court.
  • Two women, who ought to have known better, fought as they entered a Buckingham Palace drawing room. Big gratuity to the artist for this one.
  • One evening a man had a black eye painted out; came back the next night with another.
  • Angry wife threw a book at her husband, but missed him. He rushed to Clarkson to have a black eye painted in–so as to fill his wife with remorse.
  • Under Other, there are the excuses. Slipping getting into or out of bed; cab pulling up suddenly and throwing forward the occupant; baby boy whose clubbing fist flashed at his mother’s face; popular preacher, so carried away with his own eloquence that he jabbed himself in the eye.

The Height Increaser

M. Pinet of Berner Street, W. is a professional height increaser, a feat he undertakes with two methods. (Both of these continue to this day, though no one seems to be claiming the occupation, per se, on 2020 taxes.) Method one involves plush covered pads, pictured, which can be moved to from shoe pair to pair. Method two is accomplished with special boots, which M. Pinet explains can raise you as far as SIX INCHES.

Who are the customers?

  • Clerks out of employment.
  • Waitresses.
  • Policemen and others in uniform, such as Army officers.
  • Footmen (to whom stature is everything, says the Gazette.)
  • Barristers, Clerics (churchmen), Members of Parliament.
  • AND MANY OTHERS, but especially those who want to catch a particular other’s eye. M. Pinet says women use the elevators because they raise the instep and make the feet appear smaller. (Small feet, as a “thing,” no longer seem to be the rage, but considerable trouble is still taken for height.)
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

The professional height increaser tells a story about a man who left his elevator pads in his boots when he put them outside his hotel room door to be polished. Of course they came back minus the pads and “the gentleman was confined to his room,” because he didn’t want to make inquiries about them. When he did leave, he was somehow “lower” in the eyes of his friends. M. Pinet says the moral is “KEEP DUPLICATE PAIRS!”

Funeral Horseman

The average undertaker keeps “neither horses nor coaches, but hires these from people like Mr. Seaward, who keeps a hundred funeral horses,” according to the Gazette. These would account for just one hundred of the nine hundred funeral horses in London in the late 1890’s. These stately, expensive, and often feisty animals are imported from Friesland and Zeeland, Netherlands provinces. Seaward claims that, once, at a very small funeral, “the coachman lent a hand with the coffin; but in his absence, the horses ran amuck among the tombstones, which went down like ninepins in all directions.”

In the photo, one of Seaward’s men paints a horse’s white fetlock with a black mixture in preparation for a funeral procession. A white star on the forehead is simply covered with the animal’s own foretop. To the right in the photo hangs a fake horse tail, necessary when Seaward uses one of his no-tailed Dutch Black horses to create a kind of composite horse. The tail is strapped on for funerals, but at night it can be discarded so the horse can take people to and from the theaters.

Holmes, the world’s only consulting detective, stands with pipe

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Holmes, One in 4.7 Million

https://youtu.be/MJeNG1R7FzM

1780 – London Population 750,000

1801 – London Population 1.1 M

1881 – London Population 4.7 Million when Holmes and Watson take 221b

1896 – London Population 6.7 Million during The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, wherein secret submarine blueprints are found in a murdered engineer’s pocket.

1920 – London Population is 7.4 Million when Holmes is 66 and The Dangerous Drugs Act is enacted… Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable takes place.

from The Strand Magazine, January 1891

In 1860, when the six year old Holmes was still home in Yorkshire (about 322 km and or 200 miles away) London was already one quarter larger than the world’s second largest city, Beijing; two thirds larger than the Paris; five times as big as NYC. By 1881, Holmes had moved to London. Rents were high. The population was young, a little more female than male. He was on the lookout for a fellow to share the rent.

The Criminal Investigation Department had recently been created, naming 250 detectives, including Lestrade, in a police department that numbered 10,000.

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Watson, Harlene User?

Restores hair to Original Color! Not a Dye!

Prevents Hair Turning Grey or “Falling Off!”

Produces Luxuriant Whiskers and Mustaches!

The London Ilustrated News, December 1895

“I dressed, shaved, fussed to no avail with my remaining hair, and made my final preparations for the two-hour journey to Eastbourne…. I had reduced my office hours in the past two years and watched as my patients cooperated to an unflattering extent, transferring their loyalties to my young partner and nephew, Ronald Ellison.” Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable, coming soon from Propertius Press.

So How Old is Old?

When Watson received Holmes’ summons to Eastbourne, he was 68 and the year was 1920, just a hundred years ago. Stanford University’s research, based on likelihood of death, suggests that for men the transition beyond middle age in 1920 was 44. After 44 you qualified as “old,” at least in terms of likelihood of death. In 2020, that age is 60.

But that’s not all. Stanford included another transition. The transition for men from “old” to really “elderly” in 1920 was 55 in 1920. In 2020, it is 76. from John Stoven: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-age-is-considered-old-nowadays/

“Diggings” in Baker Street, Watson smokes, too–and the landlady’s mourning jewelry brings back a macabre memory

“By Jove! If he really wants someone to share the rooms and expense, I am the very man for him.” J. Watson, M.D.

In 1881, Holmes and Watson move in to 221b. Holmes is 27; Watson 29 years old.

“Holmes was delighted. ‘I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,‘ he said. … You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?’

‘I always smoke ‘ship’s’ myself,”Watson answered.

‘That’s good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally, do experiments. Would that annoy you? … Let me see, what are my other shortcomings? I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days.’

That very evening Watson moved his things from the hotel in the Strand where he had been living a comfortless and meaningless existence.” Excerpted from: Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, by William S. Baring Gould, WING BOOKS.

When they met Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, Holmes saw immediately a mourning pin at her collar, not more than half an inch long, set with a zigzag design of what was surely human hair.

Had she lost a child? Was she a widow? He did not mention it, initially, though he was personally familiar with the tradition of bereavement jewelry. His mother, Violet Sherrinford Holmes, b. 1824, treasured a ring crafted in the more macabre style of the Georgian era, a tiny skull and cross bones set in a circle of pearls.

“Diggings” in Baker Street, Watson smokes, too–and the landlady’s mourning jewelry brings back a macabre memory

“By Jove! If he really wants someone to share the rooms and expense, I am the very man for him.” J. Watson, M.D.

In 1881, Holmes and Watson move in to 221b. Holmes is 27; Watson 29 years old.

“Holmes was delighted. ‘I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,‘ he said. … You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?’

‘I always smoke ‘ship’s’ myself,”Watson answered.

‘That’s good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally, do experiments. Would that annoy you? … Let me see, what are my other shortcomings? I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days.’

That very evening Watson moved his things from the hotel in the Strand where he had been living a comfortless and meaningless existence.” Excerpted from: Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, by William S. Baring Gould, WING BOOKS.

When they met Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, Holmes saw immediately a mourning pin at her collar, not more than half an inch long, set with a zigzag design of what was surely human hair.

Had she lost a child? Was she a widow? He did not mention it, initially, though he was personally familiar with the tradition of bereavement jewelry. His mother, Violet Sherrinford Holmes, b. 1824, treasured a ring crafted in the more macabre style of the Georgian era, a tiny skull and cross bones set in a circle of pearls.

Electropathic Belts and Gizmos to Doom Covid 19

HOLMES’ 1895 Newspaper:

If Electricity Prevents Cholera and Restores Health (at once!)

Advertisement London Illustrated New December 1895

… then why couldn’t the Society for Psychical Research, with members such as Sir Oliver Lodge, writers Jane Barlow and Arthur Conan Doyle, MP Arthur Balfour, and William James, introduce you to your long ago buried great, great grandmother? After all, this was a scientific breakthrough and these late Victorians thought of themselves as citizens of a brave new world.

Are we so different? I heard on a normally sound podcast report that a pint of apple cider vinegar a day will prevent Covid 19. Why suffer unnecessarily, as the the ad says? Good ol’ aspirin has been another claimant. Or you may simply purchase the handy dandy (glowing!) electrical device that sizzles those invisible virus baddies from your door knobs and cells phones. Forget the sprays and wipes. Belt this gizmo to your wrist and have at it!

Holmes’ 1895 newspaper: a nutritious tea

Mrs. Hudson’s first thought when she observed Holmes’ ghastly deterioration in “The Dying Detective,” was to summon Watson. Her second thought was Bovril. Bovril was invented to feed French troops in 1886. A like recipe, Oxo, was a popular addition to WWI rations and a sponsor on the 1908 London Olympics.

According the to modern day Epicurious site:

“It’s a dish that goes back in time to the days when the British were trying to find the essence of what gave beef its nutritional value. Since this was before vitamins and protein were known, they weren’t sure what they were looking for. Along the way, somebody noticed that this very mild liquid was soothing and comforting. Give it a try when you’re feeling under the weather, but don’t go looking for a scientific reason for its effectiveness.”

Don’t overlook the worthy directors of the 1895 Bovril Company, noted in the lower right hand corner, nor the perhaps equally extreme representation of the waistline of the woman who weighs in on the drink and its weight in gold.

Don’t overlook the fact that Bovril is still available!