Poisonous cosmetics, 1870

An 1870 article about poisonous cosmetics mentioned a pamphlet by a Dr. Lewis Sayre describing three cases of lead palsey caused by a product called Laird’s Bloom of Youth.
The board of health had a chemist analyze popular cosmetic products of the day to check for lead and other toxins.

I've listed names of many of these popular quaint sounding concoctions.

Hair tonics
For some unknown reason making hair tonic must have been big business in New Hampshire, as many of the following were concocted there. Only one of the following hair restorers was lead free.

Hoyt’s Hiawatha Hair Restorative
Pearson Co.’s Circassian Hair Rejuvenator
Ayer’s Hair Vigor
The Hair Restorer of America
Gray’s Celebrated Hair Restorative
Phalon’s Vitalia
Ring’s Vegetable Ambrosia
L. Knittel’s Indian Hair Tonique
Hall’s Vegetable Sicilian Hair Renewer
Dr. Tebbett’s Physiological Hair Regenerator
Martha Washington’s Hair Restorative

Next we have "lotions or washes for the complexion". These were amazingly all free of lead and other injurious minerals.
Burnett’s Halliston
Phalon’s Paphian Lotion, or Floral Beautifier.
Enamel of America.
Email de Paris, de Jared
Balm of a Thousand Flowers
Dr. Bradford’s Enameline for the Complexion
Hagan’s Magnolia Balm.
Cascarilla de Jaracol de Persia
Bismuth Powder for Beautifying the Skin and Removing Freckles
And several companies made a Compound Chinese Tablet of Alabaster

On the other hand...
Perry’s Moth and Freckle Lotion....mercury
Snow-white Enamel for Whitening and Beautifying the Complexion...lead
Snow-white Oriental Cream....lead

I wonder what the moths were that Perry's lotion took care of?



Kalsomining parlor walls 1870

The March 1870 issue of manufacturer and Builder explained how to do this.

IT is a popular error to believe that the materials for kalsomining are very expensive, and also that few men have sufficient skill to apply the liquid even after it has been properly prepared. For this reason, people are frequently deceived into paying exorbitant prices for this kind of work. The materials employed are good clear glue, Paris white, and water. Paris white is sold here in New-York City and Brooklyn for two to three cents per pound. itinerant kalsominers frequently charge twenty-five cents per pound, as “they use nothing but the genuine silver polish, which is scarce, and very expensive.” In case the wall of a large room, say sixteen by twenty feet square, is to be kalsomined with two coats, it will require about one fourth of a pound of light- colored glue and five or six pounds of Paris white. Soak the glue overnight, in a tin vessel containing about a quart of warm water. If the kalsomnine is to be applied the next day, add a pint more of clean water to the glue, and set the tin vessel containing the glue into a kettle of boilng water over the fire, and continue to stir the glue until it is well dissolved and quite thin. If the glue-pail be placed in a kettle of boiling water, the glue will not be scorched. Then, after putting the Paris white into a large water-pail, pour on hot water, and stir it until the liquid appears like thick milk. Now mingle the glue-liquid with the whiting, stir it thoroughly, and apply it to the wall with a whitewash-brush, or with a large paint-brush. It is of little consequence what kind of an instrument is employed in laying on the kalsomine, provided the liquid is spread smoothly. Expensive brushes, made expressly for kalsomining, may be obtained at brush-factories, and at some drug and hardware stores. But a good whitewash-brush, having long and thick hair, will do very well. In case the liquid is so thick that it will not flow from the brush so as to make smooth work, add a little more hot water. When applying the kalsomine, stir it frequently. Dip the brush often, and only so deep in the liquid as to take as much as the hair will retain without letting large drops fall to the floor. If too much glue be added, the kalsomine can not be laid on smoothly, and will be liable to crack. The aim should be to apply a thin layer of sizing that can not be brushed off with a broom or dry cloth. A thin coat will not crack.

1870's recycling

What Becomes of Old Shoes, a question asked and answered in the Feb. 1870 issue of Manufacturer and Builder.

The old shoes were cut up in small pieces, and were put for a couple of days in chloride of sulphur, which made the leather very hard and brittle. Afterwards the material was washed with water, dried, ground to powder, and mixed with shellac or some sort of glue.
It was then pressed into molds and shaped into combs, buttons, knife handles and other articles.
A later article added the following...
"Waste leather is an excellent fertilizer, and in some parts of the world, chiefly in England, is cut up in small pieces and used in manuring the land. The same is done with woolen rags, which are highly valuable for this purpose — a fact which should be better known among farmers and Southern planters, who are in general very wasteful in regard to utilizing many substances highly valuable as fertilizers."

According to the article, leather contains gelatin, and treating the leather with an alkili will release the gelatin.
"By proper treatment, the gelatine from old leather may be made palatable, and one of the curious feats of modern chemistry, sometimes performed by Professor Van der Weyde before his class in the Cooper Union, NewYork, is the making of a palatable pudding from a pair of old used-up boots, sweetened with sugar made from linen fibre, that is to say, from an old shirt."

Old and scrap leather was also used in the manufacture of paints.

Artificial Coffee, 1870

June 1870, Manufacturer and Builder
In the 19th century people were well aware that their food was not all it should be, or what they expected it to be. It was common practice to blend brick dust with chocolate or bake sawdust into bread along with the flour.
The following is reprinted from an article published in 1870.


Artificial Coffee.
Every one knows that ground coffee is often adulturated with burnt sugar, rye, barley, malted grain, beet-roots, carrots, acorns, etc., and that some people adulturate it for themselves with chiccory; but it is not so generally known that chiccory is largely adulturated with ochre, soot, brick-dust, black earth, or even the burnt refuse from distilleries.

We have, however, hitherto supposed that if we bought some unburnt coffee beans, and roasted and ground them ourselves, we should be sure of having the genuine article; but alas this also turns out to be a sweet illusion. Coffee-beans are now actually made, like bricks, from a pale greenish clay, and approximate so closely to the natural Java coffee that in their un-roasted state they are mixed with the genuine article and can not be distinguished by the eye alone. As the price of artificial beans is only one cent per pound, in place of forty, this adulteration is very profitable to the grocer.

These artificial beans are made in moulds, each of which will shape one hundred berries from the piece of clay with which it is filled. The moulds open and shut like the moulds for casting leaden bullets. After being filled and shut, they are pressed and placed in a moderate fire for a few minutes. Soon the clay becomes dry and by opening the mould the berries are allowed to fall out. When afterward mixed with genuine beans, they will receive during the roasting the usual aroma, which, as well as the brown color, will be absorbed by tile clay beans, and all will come out with uniform appearance from the roasting-machine. The products of art and of nature will thus together go into the coffee-mill, and thence into the coffee-pot: and the coffee will have no foreign flavor, but only be weaker in proportion to the amount of artificial coffee-beans employed. We most confess that the adulterators of this class are much better than many others who poison the people they rob. These conscientious persons give nothing injurious to health; their adulteration forms simply a sediment of clay at the bottom of the coffee-pot or cup, and is usually supposed to be genuine coffee-grounds. It has in fact, in positive advantage, it assists the settling of the coffee-grounds, and thus, if it makes the coffee weaker, it renders it also clearer. The only way to detect the fraud is to break some of the unroasted beans and inspect their interior or, better still, to chew some of them. To make assurance doubly sure, it has been seriously recommended that every coffee-bean should be broken in two and the interior examined with the microscope!

More on the subject of paper houses, June 1870

Manufacturer and Builder published an article about a paper house in the June 1869 issue. Here's another article about using paper as a building material.

WE live in a peculiar age in all respects. Iron is successfully competing with stone as a superior building material; and now paper commences to compete with lumber and lath and plaster. According to accounts received, it will be as successful in competition as iron in the other.. We have already (Vol. I., p. 179) republished an article from the Desmoines Register, in which the advantages of this substance in economy of money and of time were set forth; and we hear almost daily other favorable reports.
We have received from Mr. B. E. Hale, No. 24 Frankfurt Street, this city, a sample of this building paper which impresses us most favorably. It is nothing but a very stiff pasteboard, to be used for inside finishing in place of lath and plaster: since it costs only 10 to 12 cents per square yard, including labor and material, while lumber costs from 40 cents and upward, lath and plaster nearly as much, and good shingles considerably more.
If we look at the composition of paper, and consider what it really is, we find that it consists of woody fiber, or lignite, compactly pressed together. in fact, pasteboard is wood, with the pores considerably diminished, the thickness and weight decreased, a consequent great flexibility gained, and many refractory properties removed.
Boring holes becomes unnecessary; in place of long nails or screws, tacks do the required service, and they penetrate easily while scissors rapidly and neatly cut to the proper measure, doing away with the hard labor of sawing. Thus a building may be completed in as many days as it would otherwise require weeks. The combustibility is less than that of wood. Pasteboard does not burn as easily as pine boards, as any one may find out by trial; and even the tarred paper used on the outside is scarcely more dangerous than wood, from which the tar is, in fact, extracted. If covered with metallic paint, such a house is not likely to take fire as easily as a wooden frame house; and if once burning, will produce a less dangerous conflagration, because containing a smaller amount of combustible material than buildings made of heavy boards, with twice or three times the amount of studding necessary for paper. As paper is a better non-conductor of heat than wood, such houses should also be warmer in winter and cooler in summer—a supposition verified by experience. On the whole, we shall not be surprised to find, at no distant day, a great many sensible people living comfortably in “houses of cards.”