Ring Turning: It Was All the Craze!

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Eleanor Rose

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Copyright by F.A. Stokes Co., 1905 (Printed in America) - Free to use with attribution to CC BY

According to a 19th century New York newspaper story reprinted in many papers — including the Cincinnati Enquirer on Oct. 21, 1893 — young women in offices were acting mysteriously by reaching out to men they met and turning the rings on their fingers. The idea was if a young lady met a young man with a ring on his finger, she was to turn his ring two or three times. Then with another man she was to do the same thing and then so on and so forth until she had turned rings to the extent of about 24 times. Afterwards the next thing to do was to look for a married person, male or female, wearing a marriage ring. The young woman was to turn that person’s ring twice, and the next man she shook hands with would become her husband. The craze was so popular and so time consuming that some New York businesses posted warnings: "Any employee caught practicing the ring turning business will be immediately discharged."

The newspaper account quoted a business owner saying, "The time we have lost through it would amount to days." And one woman told the newspaper that the strange practice worked like a charm. "I know of a young lady myself," she said, "who married the very man she shook hands with after turning the marriage ring. It comes true every time."

The ring-turning sensation lasted more than a decade. Would you have the audacity to participate in ring turning?
 
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Eleanor Rose

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I wonder how they kept track of all the turning? but isn't it amazing how fads come and go it and this managed to go for more than 10 years.
It really is! It makes me wonder what some other passing fads might have been during the mid-19th century. I'll do some digging, but some other members may know some they can share. There's likely threads on some already. Calling on @JPK Huson 1863 ,@Mike Serpa , @Northern Light !
 
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Eleanor Rose

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That is a strange doing. Never heard of it. Why on so many different men?
Not sure, but historian H.W. Brands in The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s wrote:

"There is something about the end of a century that sets people to thinking about their collective prospects and ultimate destiny."

Seems like in this case collective thinking led to collective compulsive behavior. :giggle:
 

Mike Serpa

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It really is! It makes me wonder what some other passing fads might have been during the mid-19th century. I'll do some digging, but some other members may know some they can share. There's likely threads on some already. Calling on @JPK Huson 1863 ,@Mike Serpa , @Northern Light !
This is a fad I've not heard of! Thanks for posting it. I read here at CWT about women catching tears in little vials after a family member dies but that is the only one that comes to mind.
 
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Odd! I would have thought that unmarried women who reach for a man's hand and do such an intimate thing as turning his ring (and not just once, but 3 times!) were probably regarded as harlots back then, but it seems it was done by honorable maidens!
I definitely know I would slap the hand of any girl who would reach out at my significant other's hand and fumble with his ring!
 

Rogue

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Thanks for posting! I have never heard of this either. Amazing to me that it lasted for 10 years. That's alot of turning! I wonder if it was only in the bigger cities or if it made it to more rural areas? Also what part of the country...East, West, North, South?
 
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Virginia Dave

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View attachment 337253
Copyright by F.A. Stokes Co., 1905 (Printed in America) - Free to use with attribution to CC BY

According to a 19th century New York newspaper story reprinted in many papers — including the Cincinnati Enquirer on Oct. 21, 1893 — young women in offices were acting mysteriously by reaching out to men they met and turning the rings on their fingers. The idea was if a young lady met a young man with a ring on his finger, she was to turn his ring two or three times. Then with another man she was to do the same thing and then so on and so forth until she had turned rings to the extent of about 24 times. Afterwards the next thing to do was to look for a married person, male or female, wearing a marriage ring. The young woman was to turn that person’s ring twice, and the next man she shook hands with would become her husband. The craze was so popular and so time consuming that some New York businesses posted warnings: "Any employee caught practicing the ring turning business will be immediately discharged."

The newspaper account quoted a business owner saying, "The time we have lost through it would amount to days." And one woman told the newspaper that the strange practice worked like a charm. "I know of a young lady myself," she said, "who married the very man she shook hands with after turning the marriage ring. It comes true every time."

The ring-turning sensation lasted more than a decade. Would you have the audacity to participate in ring turning?
I had never heard of this thank you for the post.
 

cake1979

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I definitely know I would slap the hand of any girl who would reach out at my significant other's hand and fumble with his ring!
No doubt my wife’s reaction would be similar. She’d likely sprinkle in a few choice words for the ring turner as well. Perhaps a 19th-century wife would see this differently?
 
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Waterloo50

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It really is! It makes me wonder what some other passing fads might have been during the mid-19th century. I'll do some digging, but some other members may know some they can share. There's likely threads on some already. Calling on @JPK Huson 1863 ,@Mike Serpa , @Northern Light !
There was a fad called the Alexandra Limp, Alexandra of Denmark was the bride of the Prince of Wales and the women of the time viewed Alexandra as a bit of a fashion icon, women copied everything from her clothing, jewellery and the chokers that she would wear. Unfortunately, one day Alexandra developed a nasty case of rheumatic fever and as a result she was left with a pronounced limp, the limp immediately became fashionable and women would start to copy the hobble, at first women started to wear odd shoes to help them totter about effectively, it wasn’t long before shopkeepers realised that there was money to be made from the Alexandra limp and so they started to sell mismatched shoes, normally the shoes would have one heel higher than the other. Apparently it was quite a common sight to see a number of fashionable women limping and falling over.

Alexandra wore a choker to hide a scar on her neck.

C50E2F4B-371B-46EE-850E-60223A30711D.jpeg
 
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That's really weird! Although the good thing is that other women, suffering from the same disease, were no longer seen as "crippled". And before we roll our eyes too much ... countless girls with a big bottom will say "thank you" to Kim Kardashian, who miraculously turned her big butt into a fashion item!

But Queen Alexandra (who was beautiful! Why did King Edward VII have so many mistresses, when his wedded wife was such a beauty!?!) herself apparently adopted the idea of hiding something under a choker from the adored Queen Luise of Prussia. Luise (named "good Queen Luise") hid a growth on her neck under a scarf, which immediately became fashionable around the early 1800s.
Screenshot_20191209-055416_Samsung Internet.jpg
 
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Patrick H

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I've never heard of the ring turning fad. It does seem pretty strange, but I guess no worse than fads I remember from my school days.
 
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