• When Housewives Were Seduced by Seaweed Among quaint fads of the 19th century, like riding bicycles or playing board games, one sticks out like a sore thumb—the Victorian-era obsession with seaweed. That's right: Affluent Victorians often spent hours painstakingly collecting, drying, and mounting these underwater plants into decorative scrapbooks. Why seaweed? "Part of the appeal was what a seaweed collection said about the collector…
  • Untangling the Tale of the Seven Sutherland Sisters and Their 37 Feet of Hair These days, the biggest stars—like Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé—know the easiest way to get the world to gawk is to chop off your long locks for a “boy cut.” And then, perhaps, perform some sexually provocative dances moves on TV. "Their antics and wild, over-the-top parties were the talk of Niagara County." In the late 19th century, though, the most startling, erotic thing you could do as a stage …
  • There Goes the Neighborhood: Mobile Victorian House Sets Sail for Desert Burning Man is flipping weird. The annual pilgrimage draws tens of thousands of attendees to the middle of an inhospitable desert where they enjoy a week of delusional mayhem, often in a haze of physical and spiritual intoxication (not to mention the dust clouds that frequently cover the sky). In this wild dimension where fantasy and reality collide, it’s not uncommon to see giant moving sculpture…
  • Mummies and Monkey Skulls: 'Oddities' Host Ryan Matthew Cohn on Creepy Antiques Halloween is the time of year when people reveal their most ghoulish fears and fantasies, decorating their houses with fake mummies, plastic skulls and skeletons, and eerie contorted faces carved into apples and pumpkins. But for a certain breed of collector, like artist Ryan Matthew Cohn (pictured above, in a photo by Sergio Royzen), this sort of decor is just not creepy enough. Such collectors w…
  • Could You Survive as a Victorian? Going Victorian is hot right now, with all those steampunks wearing pinstripes and top hats or corsets and petticoats while they build elaborate steam contraptions. But, seriously, do you think with your crude, unrefined modern ways you could survive in such a buttoned-up well-mannered society? The Musée McCord in Montreal throws down the challenge with its new online game that asks, “Are you a…
  • John Werry Explains How To Appreciate Victorian Furniture How did I get started collecting Victorian Furniture? Antiques is in my genes, my mother's family were longtime antiquers and lived in a house built in the 18th Century. But it really hit me about five years ago. We'd go furniture shopping and come out of the store not liking anything, empty handed. We didn't like the quality or the design of today's furniture, and we were getting tired of our coo…
  • Malcolm Warrington Invites You to Learn about Victorian Greeting Cards Malcolm Warrington is based 12 miles to the west of Central London. He is a council member of the UK Ephemera Society with responsibility for the society's web site. He also has his own site, The Scrap Album, which examines the history of Victorian Greeting Cards to illustrate how a small private collection can be used to inspire, inform, educate, and give pleasure to people of all kinds. : It'…
  • Selling Soap and Smokes With Victorian Trade Cards How did I start collecting Victorian trade cards? In the late 60s I was a bottle collector, early American bottles and flasks. I started noticing there were colorful trade cards that advertised the medicines, often with preposterous claims about their curative powers. You could pick these cards up for 10 cents or so, so I started collecting them with the bottles. I just became more and more intere…
  • Hand Motifs in Jewelry The human hand has been used for centuries as a decorative motif. We find it made of china, ivory, glass, precious metals, coral; in fact, from nearly every material that can be carved or molded. Collectors will find an amazing variety of uses and designs in articles featuring hands, and it is interesting to note that in some cases the positions of the fingers have a special significance. …