As a time traveller to the Regency period, would you be able to enjoy coffee “to go”?

“Nobody, I fancy, can be fonder of Coffee than I am.”
– Count Rumford (inventor, soldier, statesman, spy, womanizer, and philanthropist)-

Today, we are used to enjoy coffee everywhere, and the caffeinated drink “to go” is an added delight to walking in the streets or riding on a train. In the late 18th century, there were, of course, coffee houses in the cities. But would you have been able to take coffee with you on a trip or on a campaign?

Thanks to Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753 – 1814), coffee could be prepared to be preserved for a considerable time, and you would have been able to reheat it, or to enjoy it cold wherever you wanted.  Find out here how one of the most eccentric and dazzling persons of the 18th century prepared his beloved coffee as a “to go” version. Continue reading

Object of Interest: A Currency Calculator

For British merchants doing business with France, the French Revolution brought a special challenge: Revolutionary France introduced the metric system of weight and measures in 1795, and made the franc the single monetary unit in the country in 1803. Thus, the value of British money had to be reevaluated for export and import, and adjusted to the new system of weight and measures. How could this be achieved? Continue reading

If the Irish Code Duello of 1777 didn’t exist, which rules guided the handling of a duel in the late 18th Century?

In Europe, duels were common from the Renaissance on among aristocrats and military men. While duels were usually fought with swords in the first part of the 18th century, pistols became popular in Britain from around the 1770ies, superseding swords as a weapon. Duelling was illegal, and killing a man in duel was considered murder. Nevertheless, duelling was commonly associated with notions of chivalry and a code of honour.

A code of honour defined rules for issuing a challenge as well as rules of engagement on the duelling ground. It regulated the conduct of seconds, and also specified which conduct would be considered dishonourable. Which rules guided duellist in the late 18th century and early 19th century? Continue reading

The pioneering years of the horse-drawn railway

With regards to transportation, we often think we went from carriages to steam railways in one single step. As a matter of fact, there is a “missing link” between carriages for the road and steam railways: the horse-drawn railway. It was first used in collieries, but soon passengers were transported, too. Continue reading

Object of interest: The Carlton House Desk

Simply by its alluding name the Carlton House desk immediately catches the attention of a Regency Enthusiast. The imagination produces an exquisite piece of furniture made of exotic woods, rich in ornaments, and designed for no less a person than the Prince Regent. Though some antique dealers like to dwell on this lovely image, it is but a half-truth.

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The Unconventional Miss Starke: Writer and Adventuress

One of the most proficient travel writers of the late 18th century was – a woman: Mariana Starke. Her travel guides were an essential companion for British travellers to the Continent.
Being successful didn’t make life easy for Mariana. Female writing for the public was frowned upon. From her years as budding authoress to the latest edition of her successful travel guide, she always had to deal with criticism from more conventional members of society. Unperturbed by this, she led an unusual life for a woman of her time. Continue reading

Objects of Interest: Shoes!

At first glance, 18th century shoes aren’t very different from today’s shoes – though they are, of course, more delicate and ornate. At a closer look however, many features of shoes we take for granted today were invented only after 1830. Enjoy some amazing facts about shoes, shoemaking, and photos of lovely shoes.

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From Education to War Gaming: The Craze for Tin Toys in the Long 18th Century

Miniature figures or miniature soldiers in general have been around as talismans or devotional objects for many centuries. However, the ‘modern’ toy soldier – a product explicitly marketed to children to play with – was created in the 18th century in Prussia. The first tin toys were flat, two-dimensional figures. They started as a by-product of the tin-ware production.

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How to counterfeit tea: a guide for ruthless dealers in the 18th century

Let’s imagine you are a dealer of tea in London during the 18th century. Over the past decades, tea, once the luxury product for the super-rich, has reached the middle and lower classes. It is highly popular. This means a large target group for your product, but also a higher demand that must be met in times of war, trade embargos and economic depression. Tea leaves are expensive and there are heavy duties on it payable to government.
In short: Times are rough, life is hard – it thus seems rather pardonable to find ways to enrich yourself by certain methods one might call imitating tea (‘counterfeit’ is such a harsh word). Nobody will ever find out, and of course, you don’t mean to harm anyone. Plus, you are doing a favour to the lower classes that would not be able to enjoy a nice cup of tea at all if they had to pay the prices for genuine tea. Right?
Now, let’s see how tea was be imitated in the 18th century …

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The year Napoleon shot the goat that ate his plants and other events of 1820

A secret submarine plot, death in the Royal family, and a method to signal extra-terrestrials are events of a year marked by political unrest and economic depression.

After the Napoleonic Wars the economy was still down, and important reforms had been delayed over the wars. The fear of Napoleon’s influence was still tangible, with rumours about his possible escape from St. Helena becoming stronger by the end of the year. Additionally, the monarchy was in a crisis, shaken by death and scandal.

Which political, scientific, social, and literary events and anniversaries are of interest to Regency Enthusiasts in 2020? Have a look at my list of 20 events of 1820 here: Continue reading