Poisonous Fabrics

Lisa Murphy

Private
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Location
Washington State
Found this in the "The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness. A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society. Containing Full Directions for Correct Manners, Dress, Deportment, and Conversation; Rules for the Duties of Both Hostess and Guest in Morning Receptions, Dinner Companies, Visiting, Evening Parties and Balls; A Complete Guide for Letter Writing and Cards of Compliment; Hints on Managing Servants, on the Preservation of Health, and on Accomplishments. And Also Useful Receipts for the Complexion, Hair, and with Hints and Directions for the Care of the Wardrobe," by Florence Hartley (Now there's a Victorian title!!)

"TO REMOVE BLACK STAINS FROM THE SKIN. -- Ladies that wear mourning are much incommoded by the blackness that it leaves on the arms and neck, and which cannot easily be removed, even by soap and water. To have a remedy always at hand, keep, in the drawer of your washstand, a box, containing a mixture in equal portions of cream of tarter, and oxalic acid (POISON). Get, at a druggist's, half an ounce of each of these articles, and have them mixed and pounded together in a mortar. Put some of this mixture into a cup that has a cover, and, if afterwards it becomes hard, you may keep it slightly moistened with water. See that it is always closely covered. To use it, wet the black stains on your skin with the corner of a towel dipped in water (warm water is best, but is not always at hand.) Then, with your finger, rub on a little of the mixture. Then immediately wash it off with water, and afterwards with soap and water, and the black stains will no longer be visible."

From the Poison Control Help Line:
"Oxalic acid is toxic because of its acidic and chelating properties. It may cause burns, nausea, severe gastroenteritis and vomiting, shock and convulsions. It is especially toxic when ingested. As little as 5 to 15 grams (71 mg/kg) may be fatal to humans."
 

Lisa Murphy

Private
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Location
Washington State
I remember using that stuff in school chemistry - even then we had to use a bulb pipette and weren't allowed to mouth pipette it.
Oooo, drawing up Oxalic acid with a mouth pipette. Now there's a dramatic, potentially life-changing moment! I presume that this was at least high school age, so the students would have the sense to follow the no mouth pipette rule??? Yipes!
 

Harman Farm

Private
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Location
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Found this in the "The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness. A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society. Containing Full Directions for Correct Manners, Dress, Deportment, and Conversation; Rules for the Duties of Both Hostess and Guest in Morning Receptions, Dinner Companies, Visiting, Evening Parties and Balls; A Complete Guide for Letter Writing and Cards of Compliment; Hints on Managing Servants, on the Preservation of Health, and on Accomplishments. And Also Useful Receipts for the Complexion, Hair, and with Hints and Directions for the Care of the Wardrobe," by Florence Hartley (Now there's a Victorian title!!)

"TO REMOVE BLACK STAINS FROM THE SKIN. -- Ladies that wear mourning are much incommoded by the blackness that it leaves on the arms and neck, and which cannot easily be removed, even by soap and water. To have a remedy always at hand, keep, in the drawer of your washstand, a box, containing a mixture in equal portions of cream of tarter, and oxalic acid (POISON). Get, at a druggist's, half an ounce of each of these articles, and have them mixed and pounded together in a mortar. Put some of this mixture into a cup that has a cover, and, if afterwards it becomes hard, you may keep it slightly moistened with water. See that it is always closely covered. To use it, wet the black stains on your skin with the corner of a towel dipped in water (warm water is best, but is not always at hand.) Then, with your finger, rub on a little of the mixture. Then immediately wash it off with water, and afterwards with soap and water, and the black stains will no longer be visible."

From the Poison Control Help Line:
"Oxalic acid is toxic because of its acidic and chelating properties. It may cause burns, nausea, severe gastroenteritis and vomiting, shock and convulsions. It is especially toxic when ingested. As little as 5 to 15 grams (71 mg/kg) may be fatal to humans."
Good Lord!!!! Could you imagine painting a room green while wearing mourning??? YIKES!!!!
 

Yankee Brooke

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Location
PA
I'd be interested to see how many illnesses and deaths were caused by all the carcinogens they were exposed to daily. I feel like there were a lot that just weren't documented as such, being either unexplainable symptoms, or simply diagnosed under a general illness. I have a feeling many doctors weren't as thorough as they are today, so grandma coming up gravely ill was just chalked up to "she's old and sickly," not to mention doctors were often not called, particularly if it didn't appear to be anything serious.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
so grandma coming up gravely ill was just chalked up to "she's old and sickly," not to mention doctors were often not called,

My wife and I are binge watching the old “House MD” series where they solved unusual medical cases. Interspersed during an episode would be odd cases seen in the waiting room.
Season 6 had a pair of Confederate reenactors keep coming back to see the Dr. on the 3rd visit they were throwing up. They said they ate salted pork but no one else got sick. Dr. House looked at the Colonel’s coat and realized it was a synthetic blend of material. He said continuous wear of this in hot weather would make you ill like that.
I will have go back and find what material that was.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
Dr. House looked at the Colonel’s coat and realized it was a synthetic blend of material. He said continuous wear of this in hot weather would make you ill like that.
I found it— Season 8.

His uniform was made of cheap polyester processed with Antimony. Wearing it all day & night you get Antimony poisoning that causes vomiting and diarrhea.

But I cant see how anyone could mistake polyester for wool.
 

Lisa Murphy

Private
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Location
Washington State
I'd be interested to see how many illnesses and deaths were caused by all the carcinogens they were exposed to daily. I feel like there were a lot that just weren't documented as such, being either unexplainable symptoms, or simply diagnosed under a general illness. I have a feeling many doctors weren't as thorough as they are today, so grandma coming up gravely ill was just chalked up to "she's old and sickly," not to mention doctors were often not called, particularly if it didn't appear to be anything serious.
Yeah, lots of folks couldn't afford a doctor. And perhaps my profession was at best of scant use, and at worst killed people with bleeding and purging (though this was coming into disfavor by the time of the war). I've spent some time reading the London Medical Dictionary from 1819 (photo of my copy, below). This was still a bible for doctors through the mid 1800's when folks would have been trained. And The New England Journal of Medicine was a place of active debate. Here is a timely article for us nowadays, published today (March 8th) in 1860: Method of Preserving Vaccine Lymph (in case you decide to jump the line on Coronavirus vaccination and make your own...) The germ theory of disease was struggling to be accepted and very new. (My father tells me that my grandmother, from the mountains of rural Kentucky, did not believe in it, even as late as 1926 when he was a boy. God caused illnesses. Period.) They had a concept of contagion, most things being attributed to foul humors (foul air --like the Coronavirus!), and certainly they did autopsies and recognized cancers but had no idea what these were from. Poisons, of course, were very old and well known, having been so useful in politics since the Romans. (Politics being politics, and all.) Really amazing how our thinking has changed, and how little we still know. Making progress, though.

London Medical Dictionary, published 1819:
20210308_093857.jpg
20210308_095954.jpg

(Sorry I couldn't get this entry on arsenic to rotate around upright.)
 

damYankee

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 12, 2011
Strychnine was a popular stimulant from the late 19th century, used by college students and athletes until the 1930s when Bayer developed replacements, H.G. Wells wrote
" Strychnine is a grand tonic ... to take the flabbiness out of a man." In the Invisible Man.
There were doctors who treated alcohol dependency with it.
 

unicornforge

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 14, 2007
Location
Near Gettysburg, PA
No self-respecting re-enactor would wear polyester anyway.
A few years ago, I visited a store in Gettysburg that was selling clothing for reenactors. The store owner reassured me that the jacket I was looking at was natural fibers. I convinced him to cut a small piece off and put a lit match to it. The piece of fabric didn't burn, it melted into a hard obviously plastic lump. .... Even store owners apparently can't be expected to know what fabric reenactor clothing that they are selling is made of.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
lupaglupa Period (Probably not poisonous) Baked Mushrooms Foods & Recipes 19

Similar threads

Top