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Crinoline: The Deadly Victorian Fashion Piece That Burned and Killed Over 3,000 Women

The things we do for fashion.

Fashion isn’t just about vanity and style. It also defines decades and adds color to history. Today, fashion can be more practical. A lot of people’s style choices are guided by comfort, functionality, and self-expression. Many years ago, however, fashion pieces weren’t as flexible.

During the Victorian era, the crinoline, a large petticoat, was highly fashionable. The original garment was made from stiff horsehair fabric that kept the hoop skirts of the 1800s in position. The horsehair was eventually replaced by stiffened cotton, and later, by the cage crinolines that became the most popular.

The cage crinoline was made from spring steel running horizontally.

Source: MoMu

Vertical tape lines kept the hoops secure, and the circumference ran from a few feet up to about 15 feet. A petticoat was worn over the steel frame, and then a skirt or dress was worn over the petticoat.

Upperclass women first wore the crinoline, until it became so popular that women of all classes started wearing it. Movement was restricted while wearing the crinoline since certain actions and positions could compromise the wearer’s modesty. The width of the crinoline also made it difficult for women to go through doorways, and the layers of clothing made it very hot to wear.

But as much as the crinoline was fashionable, it was also very dangerous.

The fashion piece was highly flammable, and an estimated 3,000 women were killed when their crinolines caught fire. For example, in 1858, a woman in Boston was quickly burned when her skirt caught fire from her fireplace. In February 1863, Margaret Davey, a 14-year-old kitchen maid, died from the severity of her burns when her crinoline caught fire as she reached for a set of spoons. And in Philadelphia, nine ballerinas were killed when one of them brushed a candle at the Continental Theater.

In England, over a two-month period alone, 19 deaths caused by burning crinolines were reported. Female witnesses said they couldn’t provide help for fear of their own skirts catching fire.

The crinolines also posed non-lethal problems.

Women had a hard time boarding trains and other vehicles. Sometimes, the bottom of their skirts became entangled with wagon wheels or got caught by the wind.

The fashion piece went out of style in the late 1800s. Today, it is used for costumes and wedding gowns and is made from more comfortable and non-flammable materials.


World’s Largest Freshwater Pearl Formerly Owned by Catherine the Great Sold At $374,000

The Sleeping Lion was one of the famed empress’ prized jewels.

A freshwater pearl once owned by Catherine the Great was sold for an astounding $374,000 on May 31, 2018. The auction was done by the Amsterdam Pearl Society and was held at The Hague.

Considered as the world's largest pearl, the "Sleeping Lion" (noting its unusual shape) weighs 5.4 ounces and is 2.75 inches in length. According to the Venduehuis auction house catalogue, it was sold below its estimated value, which was was between $397,000 and $630,000.

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Why Is Iceland Green and Why Is Greenland Icy?

This is why I have trust issues…

Countries have interesting origin stories about how they get their names. Generally speaking, country names are either based on the land’s features, a tribe, a person, or even a directional description.

Bahrain, for example, literally means “Two Seas” while United States of America was named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. On the other hand, Norway, as its name implies, means “The Way North” or “The Northern Way” while Mauritania is based on the Mauris, the country’s largest ethnic group.

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Why Sin Eating Was Once The Worst Job In The World

Technically, it was a thankless job.

If you think you are unfortunate for having to hold on to a job that you think sucks, bear in mind that at one point in history, there were people who went the extent of risking their salvation just for money. For the so-called Sin Eaters then, it did not matter if they had to suffer eternal damnation in hell for as long they could eat and have some coins in their pockets.

While a Sin Eater is already a thing of the past, there is no questioning that it held the notion as being the worst job in England, Scotland, and Wales where it was practiced from the Middle Ages until the early 1900s. You see, a Sin Eater had to eat a piece of bread placed on the chest of a dying person, otherwise known as a sin-soaked bread, while the family of the would-be departing person watched, prayed, and drank a flagon of ale.

By eating the sin-soaked bread, it was believed then that a Sin Eater could absolve the dying person from his sins, and his chances of entering heaven would improve.

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