Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to Dress Warmly, 1315

Lyon, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 5128, f. 114v
“Dress well, wear good shoes, and when you go outside, wear overshoes so that your feet will be warm. And don’t make a 'sausage' hat for yourself as some people do, because they are not good. And when you see the other students wearing their caps, you should too, and a fur cap, if necessary. And at night when you study, you should wear a nightcap over the cap and around your cheeks. And when you go to sleep at night, you should wear a white nightcap on your head and covering your cheeks and another colored one on top, since the head should be kept warmer at night than during the day. And during the rainy season, it’s good to wear another cap or helmet over your cap so that your head doesn’t get wet. Actually, some people wear a helmet over the cap in nice weather, but especially when it’s cold, so that they can remove the helmet in the presence of important people without taking off the cap. And take care of your boots and make sure your feet aren’t filthy.” 
Letter from a physician in Valencia to his sons studying in Toulouse
Revealed: the Past is actually your grandmother. Now go put on your hat.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

How to Spend October, 1612

Tacuinum Sanitatis, Paris, BnF Lat. 9333, f. 96r
"In October... Arme your body soundly with pleasant wines or spiced drinks against the ensuing Winter. Arme your minde with study, for now this temperate time invites thee to read without impediments either of violent colde or violent heat." 
William Vaughan, Approved Directions for Health
Quick, arm yourself with the pleasant wines and long books because WINTER IS COMING

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How to Behave at School, 1479

Hortus sanitatis (1497), Darmstadt
"We order and decree that teachers and students who are wearers of indecent garments, brawlers, drunks, nighttime ramblers, pimps, thieves, frequenters of taverns and other filthy places, players of dice, scoffers or trespassers of the statutes and commands of the Rector and the University, arrogant abusers of privileges, and especially aggravators of the citizens and committers of other scandalous misdeeds, if they do not desist after fair warning... shall be entirely excluded from the community of the University.”  
Copenhagen University Statutes, 1479
Fall: when teachers and students sharpen their pencils, crack open their books, and try to cut back on their filthy drunken brawling.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to Watch an Eclipse Safely, 1579 and 1658

Eclipse of 1664 (British Library 1875.d.4)
"Whosoever desyres to see the Sun eclipsed without hurting their eyes: Let them beholde the shadow therof in a vessel, wherin oyle is put: Where, they may beholde and see it without daunger. For a fatty humor is not easely troubled. And what shapes or fourmes it doth receyve: It representeth the same truely." 
Thomas Lupton, One Thousand Notable Things (1579) 
"Now I have determined to shew how the Suns Eclipse may be seen. When the Sun is Eclipsed, shut your Chamber-windows, and put a paper before a hole, and you shall see the Sun: let it fall upon the paper opposite from a Concave-glass, and make a circle of the same magnitude: do so at the beginning, middle, and end of it. Thus may you without any hurt to your eyes, observe the points of the diameter of the Suns Eclipse." 
Giambattista della Porta, Natural Magick (1658)
Forgot to buy NASA-approved solar glasses? These methods are approved by the Past.

Monday, August 14, 2017

How to Beautify Your Face, 1660

The Gentlewomans Companion, 1682

"An Ointment that takes away all Bunchings and Speckles of the Face. Take of the roots of Ass-cowcumber, white Been, Bryony, Lupines, each half an ounce, Cerusse, Litharge, Tartar, each one dram; Cane-roots, Serapine, Pigeons dung, each two scruples, Oyl of Turky-millet three ounces, Oyl of Juniper, Oyl of Bread-corn, each two ounces and a half; Juice of Orenges four ounces, pouder what is to be pouder'd, and fine searse them, then boyl them all till the Juice is consumed, then take them from the fire, alwayes stirring them with a spattle till they are cold, then add the white of one new laid Egg beaten and streined; Camphure pouder'd one dram, always mixing them, then wash it in one pint of water, prest from yong Canes, washing it ten times in that water, and stirring it with a spattle, and it is excellent." 
Johann Jacob Wecker, Cosmeticks
Look, beauty has a price, and sometimes that price is collecting pigeon droppings and digging the roots of the ass-cowcumber.

Monday, July 3, 2017

How to Make Fireworks, 1633

“Of the making of Rockets and other Fireworkes. For the making of Rockets of sundry kinds, divers molds are to be made, with their Rowling pins, Breathes, Chargers, &c. as may be seene here in the figure. And having rowled a Case of paper upon the Rowling pin for your mould, fill it with the composition belonging to that mould... now may you loade it on the top, with Serpents, Reports, Stars, or Golden Raine... Touching the making of the Golden Raine that is nothing but filling of Quilles with the composition of your Rockets somewhat hard: Now if the head of a Rocket be loaded with a thousand of those Quilles its a goodly sight to see how pleasantly they spread themselves in the Ayre and come down like streames of Gold much like the falling downe of Snow being agitated by a turbulent winde." 
Jean Leurechon (Hendrik van Etten), Mathematicall Recreations
 Gunpowder + a thousand quills = guaranteed to be a goodly sight.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How to Make Fake Coffee, 1868

"Nutritive Coffee," 1862, Library of Congress
Coffee Substitutes. 
The love of coffee is an acquired taste. Perhaps nine tenths of the families using it ‘burn’ it almost to a coal, so that, in reality, any other burnt bitter would answer quite as well. In fact, multitudes in the far West, removed from markets, have become accustomed to use burnt bread-crust as a substitute... The following substitutes for coffee have been collected, in all of which it is suggested, first, that the substitute be mixed with the genuine article, half-and-half; second, that in order to know what you are really drinking, roast and grind your own coffee. In this way only can you know that you are not imposed upon, or may not be drinking some cheap material, either filthy or poisonous... 
Rye Coffee... Take some rye; first, scald it; second, dry it; third, brown it, and then mix it with one third coffee and two thirds rye, and then you will have as good a cup of coffee as you ever drank. 
Sweet-Potato Coffee. – Take sweet potatoes, cut them fine enough to dry conveniently, and when dried, grind in a coffee-mill; dry them by the fire or stove, at this season of the year, or by the sun, when that will do it; grind and use one and a half tea-cupfuls for six persons, or mixed with coffee in such proportions as you like. Some omit half of the coffee, some more. 
Barley Coffee. – Take common barley, or the skinless, if it can be obtained, roast as you would coffee, and mix in such proportion as suits your taste. It is very good. 
Pea Coffee. – It is probably known to many that a very large per cent of the ground coffee sold at the stores is common field-peas, roasted and ground with the coffee. There are hundreds of thousands of bushels of peas annually used for that purpose. Those who are in the habit of purchasing ground coffee can do better to buy their own peas, burn and grind them, and mix to suit themselves. 
Carrot Coffee... Cut up, dry and grind, and mix with coffee in quantities to suit the taste. 
Chestnut Coffee. – Chestnuts, also, are said to make excellent coffee. 
Dandelion root, dried and slightly scorched, never burned. 
Chicory Coffee. – Equal weights of chicory and coffee, dried and roasted in the usual manner. The chicory root is raised as easily as carrots, and in exactly the same manner. To prepare the root, wash it clean, slice it lengthwise in four to six pieces, according to size, cut in two-inch lengths, dry and keep in a dry place until wanted. Chicory is largely used to adulterate coffee...
W. W. Hall, Hall's Health Tracts
  Don't pretend you've never run out of coffee and tried to drink burnt bread-crust juice instead.