Thursday, April 13, 2023

Travel Essentials for the 19th Century Lady

By Kimberly Grist

According to the American Etiquette Rules of Politeness, written by Walter Houghton in 1883, “There is no situation in which a lady is more exposed than when she travels, and there is no position where a dignified, lady-like deportment is more indispensable and more certain to command respect.”

Travel Essentials
Mr. Houghton recommended carrying a sponge, tooth, and nail brushes, and soap in an oilskin bag.

The Modern Toothbrush
William Addis designed the more modern toothbrush in England around 1780. The handle was carved from cattle bone, and the brush was made from pigs' hair. In 1844, the first 3-row bristle brush was designed. The first U.S. patent for a toothbrush was filed in 1857.

The Modern Toothpaste
The first commercially produced, nice-smelling toothpaste was launched by Colgate and sold in a jar in 1873.

Colgate's Dental Powder, newspaper advertisement (The Indianapolis Journal, Oct. 18, 1891)

The Collapsible Tube

Colgate's Ribbon Dental Cream (1896). In 1892, Doctor Washington Sheffield, an American Dentist of New London, manufactured toothpaste into a collapsible tube (right image below). He had the idea after his son traveled to Paris and saw painters using paint from tubes. Colgate's Ribbon Dental Cream was packaged in collapsible tubes imitating Sheffield. The original collapsible toothpaste tubes were made of lead.

Mr. Houghton also recommended a hairbrush, comb, hairpins, a small mirror, and towels should be carried in your traveling satchel.

The First Modern Mirrors

European glassmakers learned how to coat glass with a tin-mercury amalgam during the Renaissance, creating a perfectly reflective surface. Venice, known for its skilled glass artisans, became a center of high-quality mirror production in the 1500s, creating coveted ornate hand-made matching vanity sets, which usually included a hairbrush, a comb, and a handheld mirror. The first modern mirrors appeared in 1835 when Justus von Liebig developed a technique for coating glass with silver.

Traveling as a Mail-Order Bride
In my new release, A Match for Gabe, Carrie Ann Dixon's impulsive nature has cost her a teaching position. Destitute, she seeks the help of a matchmaker requesting someone who embraces adventure and is enthusiastic about building a romantic relationship. Hoping for the best, she packs her essentials and heads west, hoping for her happily ever after.

Gabe Russell, former soldier, and regimented rancher isn't looking for love. Instead, he needs a cook, housekeeper, and babysitter for his four younger siblings. Hence, his request to the matchmaker includes, "My desired match should be a no-nonsense, hard-working woman who knows the importance of following a schedule.

Connect with Kimberly:
Fans of historical romance set in the late 19th -Century will enjoy stories combining, History, Humor, and Romance, emphasizing Faith, Friends, and Good, Clean Fun.

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  1. When I glanced at this article's title, I thought Kim Grist needs to read this. Then I saw your name. I really enjoyed this.

  2. Thank you for posting today. Given some of those etiquette rule books, this one seems realistic. What trip preparations would be complete without toothbrush and hairbrush, minimum?

    1. Imagine when toothbrushes and paste weren't convenient!

  3. Great information for those of us writing Gilded Age historical romance, Kim! Thank you!