A combined pinfire revolver and dagger originating from France of Belgium, circa 1860.
Folk medicine during the Middle Ages,
From The Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson
Female Hysteria and the Wandering Womb,
In pretty much all eras of history it was the expectation of women to be subordinate to men without question and to make babies. Any reaction or emotion other than the status quo was often labeled as a disorder or disease, either mental or physical. For centuries physicians believed in a disorder called “female hysteria” which exhibited symptoms such as faintness, tiredness, irritability, or “a tendency to cause trouble”.
In Ancient Greece, the cause of “female hysteria” was believed to be directly caused by the womb. In fact, this Ancient Greek belief casts down a legacy today, as the word “uterus” is Greek for hysteria. Greco-Roman physicians such as Hippocrates, Aretaeus, and Galen took the notion one step further by proposing the “wandering womb”. According to the ancients, the uterus was not necessarily an integral organ of the female anatomy, but a separate entity with a mind of its own. It would move about and react to stimuli on its own free will. The Greek physician Areteaus describes the womb as such,
In the middle of the flanks of women lies the womb, a female viscus, closely resembling an animal; for it is moved of itself hither and thither in the flanks, also upwards in a direct line to below the cartilage of the thorax, and also obliquely to the right or to the left, either to the liver or the spleen, and it likewise is subject to prolapses downwards, and in a word, it is altogether erratic. It delights also in fragrant smells, and advances towards them; and it has an aversion to fetid smells, and flees from them; and, on the whole, the womb is like an animal within an animal.
As the uterus moved about pelvic cavity it touched off nerves and blocked blood vessels, causing all sorts of trouble that could lead to female hysteria and other physical ailments. The Ancient Greeks believed that the uterus disliked foul smells and became grumpy in the presence of them, thus causing the uterus to wander about. To coax the uterus back into position, ancient physicians recommended inserting sweet and pleasant substances into the vaginal canal, such as cinnamon or honey. With any luck the roaming uterus would chill out and return home. Maintaining pregnancy also helped prevent a melancholy uterus, as ancient doctors theorized that a pregnant uterus is a happy uterus.
Scarce and unusual Frankenau purse pistol,
Patented in 1877, the Frankenau purse gun featured a five shot 5mm pinfire revolver built in and hidden within a small purse. A trigger folded down from the purse, which was squeezed to fire it.
Estimate Value: $5,000 - $8,000
The Venezuelan Tortuga Tank, circa 1934.
High Fashion of the 17th Century —- The Ruff
Today fashion changes in the blink of an eye. What was once fashionable one year, is total passe a few years later. Fashion was no different 500 years ago in Europe. What could be popular one year, could be totally unhip the next.
One interesting item of 16th and early 17th century fashion was the ruff, the strangle looking frilly collar typically worn by the upperclasses of Europe, both men and women alike. The ruff began its life around the mid 16th century. At the time it became fashionable for men to turn the collar of their shirts so they folded over the neck of their jackets. The purpose of this was to prevent a jacked or doublet from being soiled from oils secreted from the neck. But as the decades wore on, the ruff went from a practical piece of attire to something entirely decorative. By the 1560’s, ruffled collars grew in size. By the 1560’s and 1570’s, the ruff became an entirely separate article of clothing, and it continued to grow in size. This was made possible when Europeans discovered how to starch clothing, which allowed the ruff to become wider without it losing its shape. In addition wire frames were constructed to help support large “cartwheel ruffs”. The growth of the ruff grew to the point that one could be a one to two feet wide from the neck and require six to ten yards worth of fabric. While most ruffs were white, other colors were worn as well. However in England the wearing of blue ruffs was made illegal by Queen Elizabeth I as blue is the national color of Scotland.
By the 17th century the ruff became an even more massive affair as clothiers experimented with multiple layers. The early 17th century also saw the beginning of the end of the ruff as its most famous proponent, Queen Elizabeth I, died in 1603. Furthermore the growing popularity of Puritanism within England brought about the death of the ruff as Puritans considered the fashion to be vain and prideful. The ruff continued its popularity in the Netherlands and Northern Europe, until it finally went out of fashion in the mid 17th century.
An unusual three shot wheel-lock pistol with rotating barrels.
Fired small arrows or darts rather than bullets. Produced by the gun maker Peter Peck for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, mid 16th century.
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Blowing smoke up your ass —- The history of the tobacco smoke enema.
Shortly after the introduction of tobacco in Europe, physicians and so called “health experts” began to experiment with tobacco as a medicinal remedy. By the 18th century doctors began to combine tobacco with one of the most popular medical procedures of the era, the enema (then called “clysters”). At first physicians would smoke from a pipe and blow the second hand smoke into the patient’s rectum through a simple tube. Later the process became much more advanced as special tobacco smoke enema kits were created which featured a bellows with an internal reservoir of burning tobacco. By the mid 18th century the tobacco enema was a popular cure for typhus, cholera, and fevers. Results varied.
In 1774 two London physicians named Dr. William Hawes and Dr. Thomas Coogan experimented with the idea of using tobacco enemas to revive the recently deceased, especially drowning victims. They theorized that the tobacco smoke would warm the person and stimulate respiration. A group of like minded medical professionals joined Dr. Hawes and Coogan, forming an organization that would later become the Royal Humane society. While the use of tobacco enemas probably did little to revive those in cardiac arrest, the group did developed the first methods of artificial respiration, a precursor of modern CPR techniques.
In 1811 the English scientist Ben Brodie discovered that nicotine was a poisonous substances. As a result, by the early 19th century most medicinal uses for tobacco fell by the wayside, tobacco enemas included.
Unusual .30 caliber sleeve pistol patented by E. Carlstrom of Chicago, 1929.
The Ancient Mystery of the Sator Square,
A sator square, also known as a rotas square, was a word square common in the Ancient Roman Empire. The square was a palindrome featuring four words, “SATOR”, “AREPO”, “TENET”, “OPERA”, and “ROTAS”. Arranged in a grid, no matter how you read a sator square, whether right to left, left to right, top to bottom, or bottom to top, you still have the same combination of "SATOR", "AREPO", "TENET", "OPERA", and "ROTAS".
While the design is certainly ingenious, the purpose of this square is a mystery. Romans typically hanged them on their houses and private dwellings. Some were even carved directly into the stonework of buildings. Examples can be found all over the Roman Empire.
Today historians debate the meaning of the sator square, with theories ranging from folk magic to religious purposes. One popular theory was that is was a code used by ancient Christians as method of identifying themselves without getting caught and persecuted, much like the Jesus fish symbol. If the “N” from “TENET” remains in place, the rest of the letters can be rearranged to form the words “PATER NOSTER” (our father) in the shape of the cross, flanked by “A” and “O” (alpha and omega, the beginning and the end).
While intriguing, the Christian theory meets hard skepticism. For example, a sator square was found in the ruins of Pompeii, yet the city had been destroyed by the volcano Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Christianity had not really spread to Southern Italy at that time and thus seems an unlikely explanation for its purpose.
Today historians, code breakers, mathematicians, and even occultists continue to debate the meaning of the sator square, with little consensus as to its purpose.
Occasionally practicality must take a backseat to awesomeness. Hence this three barreled wheel-lock volley pistol from the 17th century.
More Scary Japanese Monsters —- The Shirime
In old times, this was a yokai (creature) found on the roads leading to Kyoto. The legend goes that late at night, a samurai was walking down the street when a man in a kimono stepped in to block his path and said “Excuse me … just a moment of your time … “ The samurai readied himself for an attack, and shouted back “What do you want?”
The man suddenly shed his kimono and stood stark naked. He then bent over and showed his ass to the samurai, which had a single, huge eye. When the eye opened, it shown with a bright light. The samurai screamed with fright and fled from the mysterious monster.
From Mizuki Shigaru’s Mujara