One Dance, Many Dangers: the Waltz during the Regency Period

May I have the pleasure of this Waltz? It is the most controversial dance of the Regency Period. That the Waltz was considered scandalous certainly isn’t new to you. But there were more reasons than too much intimacy between the dance partners that made people turn up their noses at the Waltz. Among the despisers was e.g. Lord Byron who can hardly be counted among the moralisers of the age. So what was wrong with the Waltz? Continue reading

Object of interest: A pianino with a ‘long neck’

In 1709, Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano. From the second half of the 18th century, keyboard instruments underwent many improvements: When London became a major centre of piano building in the mid-1760s, inventive companies such as Broadwood hit the market with the so-called square piano. It was built in a form resembling the clavichord. Compact and less expensive than wing-shaped grand piano, the square piano quickly became the keyboard instrument of choice in the late 18th century – the one Jane Austen’s heroines would play. However, competition for the square piano arose on the Continent: a tall, strikingly looking instrument called the pianino.

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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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Read like it’s 1822: 12 books that hit the book market 200 years ago

1822 is a good year for readers! Many great authors are back with their latest novels. Even better: juicy scandals add extra spice to some publishing days.

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 1822! Continue reading

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

Object of Interest: The Devil Among the Tailors

Playing with a top and skittles was popular in the 18th century. Children and grown-ups alike tested their skills at a game called “The devil among the tailors”. The 18th-century game is different from today’s version that is still around in some pubs in Britain. It is much larger, and you need more skills to score points. How was it played? And what’s in a name?

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From Education to War Gaming: 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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What are the best reads in 1820?

If you were a time traveller in 1820 longing for a good read, what would be your options?
Check out the list of popular fiction releases, and the latest findings from science, travel, and philosophy on the non-fiction book shelf!
I have added links to online versions of each book, so you can actually read like its 1820:

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Object of Interest: The Serinette

Music instruments of the 18th century – the harp and the piano for genteel young ladies come to mind, the violin for young Arthur Wellesley, flutes and pipes for rustic dances. But is that really all that was popular during that time? Well, I came across an interesting piece (see photo) at the section for musical instruments of Deutsches Museum / Munich. It is a type of mechanical musical instrument consisting of a small barrel organ and some pipes. But what exactly is it – a simple music box? There wasn’t a description added to the instrument, but having the year 1813 written on it, it naturally interested me. I did some research and found out more:

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