Are you looking for ideas for presents to give your loved ones? Perhaps you will find inspiration in our selection of advertisements taken from Beeton’s Christmas Annual 1873.
We start with The Literary Machine patented by J. Carter of London and used by Princess Louisa. The device held a book, writing-desk, lamp, or meals in any position whilst also screening the user’s face from the fire. It could be applied easily to a bed, sofa, chair, or ship’s berth, and was invaluable for students and invalids – ‘A most useful and elegant gift’.
Next we have choice perfumery and Christmas novelties from Eugene Rimmel, perfumer to the Princess of Wales. Rimmel’s perfumes included Ihlang- Ihlang, Vanda, Henna, Snow-White, Violet, Tea, Coffee, and the intriguingly named Jockey-Club. As well as skin powders, creams and soaps, Rimmel offered crackers, boxes, baskets, fans, Christmas tree ornaments, and perfumed cards and almanacs.
Rowlands’ products were said to be perfect for those planning to celebrate Christmas and New Year in company. Their macassar oil imparted ‘a Transcendent Lustre to the Hair’, whilst Kalydor gave a radiant bloom to the cheek and a delicate softness to the hands and arms, removing ‘cutaneous defects’. Rowlands’ Odonto made teeth pearly white and gave a pleasing fragrance to the breath.
Advert for the Nose Machine
How about a Nose Machine? Alexander Ross of High Holborn was selling for 10s 6d ‘a contrivance which , if applied to the nose for an hour daily, so directs the soft cartilage of which the member consists, that an ill-formed nose is quickly shaped to perfection’. Anyone could use it without pain.
H. G. Clarke of Covent Garden offered gifts to amuse. The Magic Sailor would astonish and provoke roars of laughter as he danced in time to any tune. Owners of The Wizard’s Box of Magic would be equipped to perform ‘ten capital conjuring tricks sufficient for one hour’s amusement’. The Enchanted Tea Chest allowed 100 perfumed things to be produced from an empty box.
Also on offer was Beeton’s Englishwoman’s Almanac and Ladies’ Annual for 1873, ‘the most useful and attractive Almanac brought before the Public’ priced at one shilling. The editor had contributed letters to the ladies on some delicate subjects and there were three coloured pictures: ‘I’ll have your tootsies’, ‘Brave boys, defiant geese, and a wise dog’, and ‘The lover’s vow accepted’. Mrs Treadwin of Exeter had designed four point lace d’oyleys and the publication contained ‘a mass of practical matter connected with domestic and family requirements’, with ruled sheets for keeping accounts.
The Christmas number of The Ladies was packed with seasonal stories, plays, songs, games and amusements, as well as 24 pages of high-class pictorial engravings by popular English artists presented in a decorative wrapper.
Farrow and Jackson, ‘Original Inventors’ of London and Paris, were selling a variety of iron wine bins and racks for mineral waters.
And for anyone over-indulging in drink and food over the festive season, Page Woodcock’s Wind Pills were available, having wrought ‘wonderful and miraculous cures in Birmingham’.
Seasonal greetings from Untold Lives!
Lead Curator, East India Company Records
Beeton’s Christmas Annual 1873