Turn of Twentieth Century: Personal Care

In Catherine Anderson’s 2010 romance novel Early Dawn, protagonist Eden Paxton comments,
“According to The Little Giant Cyclopedia of Ready Reference, modern-day trains travel at an average speed of just a little over forty-eight miles an hour, but this one definitely isn’t.”

The following personal care tidbits from my 1901 copy of The New Little Giant Cyclopedia of Ready Reference make me glad I did not live at the turn of the twentieth century.

Charcoal Toothpaste. Chlorate of potash, ½ dram; mint water, 1 ounce. Dissolve and add powdered charcoal, 2 ounces; honey, 1 ounce.

Excellent Mouth Wash. Powdered white Castile soap, 2 drams; alcohol, 3 ounces; honey, 1 ounce; essence or extract of jasmine, a dram. Dissolve the soap in alcohol and add honey and extracts.

Superior cologne water. Oil of lavender, two drams; oil of rosemary, one dram and a half; orange, lemon and bergamot, one dram each of the oil; also two drams of the essence of musk; attar of rose ten drops and a pint of proof spirit. Shake all together thoroughly three times a day for a week.

To make shoes or boots water-proof. Melt together in a pipkin, equal quantities of beeswax and mutton suet. While liquid rub it over the leather, including the soles.

To soften boots and shoes. Kerosene will soften boots and shoes which have been hardened by water, and render them as pliable as new.

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