Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Disclose Your Relationship Status, 1890


 "If a gentleman wants a wife, he wears a ring on the first finger of the left hand; if he is engaged, he wears it on the second finger; if married on the third; and on the fourth if he never intends to be married. When a lady is not engaged, she wears a hoop or diamond on her first finger; if engaged, on the second; if married, on the third; and on the fourth if she intends to die unmarried."
The Mystery of Love, Courtship, and Marriage Explained
And a diamond thumb ring is universal language for "it's complicated."

Monday, November 10, 2014

How to Grow Facial Hair, 1658

"Amongst those things that will make ones beard grow, and are easy to be had, I reckon Honey, fresh Butter without Salt, the juyce of a red Onion... Badgers grease, called Das, Bears, Lions, Grease, Bryony-roots, Beets, Radish, Pepperwort, white Lilies, Flour-de-luce: a liniment may be made of these, for the chin wet with these, first brings forth a tender down, after that a thick and long beard, which that it may not grow white too soon, must be watered rather with cold water that hath a little wine mingled with it, if we desire to adorn it." 
Levinus Lemnius, The Touchstone of Complexions
The path to bearded bliss is long, tortuous, and kind of smelly. Much like the beard itself.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to Cure a Nosebleed, 1561

Ortus Sanitatis (1499)
"Beat egges shales to pouder and syft them through a linnen cloth and blewe them into his nose: if the shales were of egges whereout yonge chickens are hatched, it were so much the better. Or els take the dounge of an asse, mixe the same wyth vinegre, and holde the same at his nose. Lykewyse doth the dounge of a Sowe or Swyne that hath eaten grasse.” 
Hieronymus Brunschwig,  A Most Excellent and Perfecte Homish Apothecarye
A handy quiz for identifying effective nosebleed remedies:
1. Did it come out of a farm animal?
2. Did a farm animal come out of it?
If you answered "yes" to one or both of these questions, go ahead and apply it to your nose.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How to Prevent Pregnancy, c. 1260

British Library Sloane MS 75, f. 87r
"A weasel placed on a scorpion bite helps greatly... if its heel is taken from it while it still lives and is placed on a woman, she will not get pregnant as long as it is there." 
Albertus Magnus, De animalibus
As if you needed another reason to keep a live weasel in your bedroom.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Enchant Your Lover, c. 1470

BL Stowe 17 f. 143
"When a woman wants to be well loved by her husband or her lover, she must give him catnip to eat: he will be so much in love with her that he will not rest unless she is close to him."

The Distaff Gospels

Even if this man-enchanting trick doesn't work out for some reason, you'll still be accompanied by a devoted band of cats.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Maintain Facial Hair, 1609


John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis (1650)
"It is most true that a man is to be commended, if he be cleanly... his haire well dressed, his beard well brushed, and alwayes his vpper lip well curled... as if every haire would threaten to pull out his eyes, for if he chance to kisse a Gentlewoman, some rebellious haire may happen to startle in her nose, and make her sneese, so by this meanes, he applies both physick & courtesie at one time, then he may freely say, God blesse you Lady, receaving back the chirping Eccho of I thenk you sir."

Simion Grahame, The Anatomie of Humors 

Want to improve your kissing technique? With a properly curled mustache, your next kiss will really be explosive.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How to Groom Yourself, c. 1200

Walters Art Museum, W.105

 "Let your hair be combed, and your haircut be equally neat. If you are shaggy, have your hairy beard trimmed back. If your eyes are watery, consult a doctor. Let your hands be clean, your sleeves laced up. Don’t have deformed fingernails, or disgusting teeth. Don’t let long hairs sprout from your nostrils. Your feet should not be marred with ugly skin; you should walk elegantly with your head high."
Daniel of Beccles, Urbanus magnus
Don't take this the wrong way, but the Middle Ages would like to gently suggest that you walk those gnarly feet to the pedicurist.