Checkmate! Where to learn and play chess as a time traveller in 18th-century Britain

Good news for the time travelling Chess Enthusiast to Georgian England: The game is played by men and women alike. Napoleon, e.g., played chess in his youth, at college, and indeed all this life. The second half of the 18th century even saw the game becoming increasingly popular, with some coffee houses offering their rooms as locations for chess lessons with famous players. Also, the first chess club was founded. Find out here where you can play a decent game of chess or improve your skills from the 1770s – 1820.

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Becoming King: Napoleon, Maximilian & The Coronation Ceremony that never was

In the early 19th century there was hardly a more experienced kingmaker than Napoleon Bonaparte: He had crowed himself as Emperor of France in 1804, became King of Italy in 1805, and made his relatives Kings of the Kingdom of Holland (1806), the Kingdom of Naples (1806 and 1808), the Kingdom of Westphalia (1807) and of Spain (1808). He also made his ally, Maximilian IV Joseph, prince-elector of Bavaria, a King in 1806. The coronation of the King of Bavaria was planned to be a splendid affair, and everyone invested large amounts of money, time and craftsmanship, but alas….

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Ladies’ Hats made from Horsehair

During the Regency period, horses seemed to be everywhere: They were indispensable partners for work, transportation, warfare, sport – and even for lifestyle and fashion. Horsehair from manes and tails was used for brushes, wigs and string instruments, and it was proceeded into haircloth. Haircloth was a great fabric for upholstery or for stiffening crinolines and the front panels of a suit. All these usages relied on the robustness of the material. But did you know that delicate ladies’ hats were made of horsehair, too?

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Shades of Blue: Discovering new colours in the 18th Century

The 18th century saw an increase in scientific knowledge and practical research. Many findings found their way into everyday life, craft and commerce. New technics allowed, e.g., to create new colours. Find out here what Napoleon’s Campaign in Egypt, the Prussians and an apothecary had to do with the various blue pigments created in the long 18th century.

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When scents became seductive

France was the center of fashion for all matters of beautiful living in the first half of the 18th century. The court indulged in heavy scents. Perfume was a fashion statement as well as a necessity: scents were used to protect oneself from bad smells that might be contagious, and they were also a symbol of social power.
All this was to change in the 2. half of the 18th century, and the change moved on to Britain: British noblemen and -women on their Grand Tour of the Continent witnessed and adopted the so-called olfactory revolution of the late 18th century …

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The Reichenbach Case – Industrial Espionage at Boulton & Watt

In the late 18th century, Bavaria was an economically backward state, heavily relying on agriculture. Bavaria’s Elector, Karl Theodor (1777-1799), though usually more interested in arts and philosophy than in state affairs, was aware of the problems arising from a weak industrial economy – especially with the French revolutionary army roaming Europe. Karl Theodor looked to England, a prosperous nation, and the number 1 in technical innovation.


Karl Theodor – probably inspired by his consultant, the smart Count Rumford – came up with a cunning plan: Continue reading

Read like it’s 1823!

Eight years after the Napoleonic Wars, the economy gets back on track. Science and technology advance significantly. Politicians are discussing reforms, and some repressive laws have already been repealed. All the while, high society sticks to the ‘old’ ideas and rules.
The book market is a mirror of this situation: the fiction genre mainly celebrates the familiar authors, but at the same time it starts to open towards more ‘radical’ topics.
In non-fiction, new publications highlight the path to the future, or look back to the ‘good old times’ of everyone’s favourite enemy: Napoleon.

Check out my list of popular fiction and non-fiction releases. I have added links to online versions of each book, so you can actually read like its 1823!

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How to cheat at Whist in the 18th century

Gaming table in a country house. Would you hve dared to play Whist with strangers?

Whist was one of the most popular card games in Georgian England. It began its career as a plain game for common men. With the rise of the coffee houses in London, the gentry picked up the game. Reputedly it was Lord Folkestone who brought the game into fashion in high society around 1728, when he adopted it as a challenging strategic card game requiring good memory, sympathetic partnering and psychological acumen.

The rules of Whist were written down in Edward Hoyle’s “ A short treatise on the game of whist” in 1742. As early as this, methods of cheating were discussed. While Hoyle advocated fair play, the stakes at Whist could be high, and thus tempt many to force luck their way. Besides, cheating at whist is very easy. Continue reading

You are not really dressed until you are wearing a hat

Dear time travelling gentleman on the way to the 18th century, please make sure to take with you one thing: a hat!
In the 18th century, a hat is not only useful in bad weather, and it is more than a fashion accessory. A hat indicates your role in society. Without a hat you are a nobody.
Follow me to a brief introduction to the history of 18th century hats. We make sure you pick the correct one for each period, and we also find out about hat etiquette.

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