Power to the people

From The Guardian:

Vic Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain By Judith Flanders. In the 17th century it was not unusual for a poor, rural household to own no more than two or three pots, a knife apiece and a cup between them. By 1715, 90 per cent of families had a clock, and by the end of the 19th century comparable households lived in cottages filled with ‘Victorian clutter’. By 1910, there was one piano for every 10 to 20 people. These and many other thought-provoking statistics may be found in Judith Flanders’ formidable book on 19th-century leisure and consumption.

Flanders’ book is a panoramic view of a society and economy transformed by retail, travel and the production of inessential goods, which produced a vast upward leap in the standard of living. While travel became increasingly important, paradoxically, the notion of domestic pleasure became more and more significant, as did all aspects of interior decoration.

Best in show: At the 1851 Great Exhibition

· A steamship couch which could be turned into a bed and, thanks to its base of cork, a life raft.

· Yachting garb with inbuilt flotation devices.

· A doctor’s suit with coat, waistcoat and trousers made in one piece to prevent time wastage in the event of a night-time emergency.

· Church pews connected to a pulpit by rubber pipes so that the hard of hearing could listen to the sermon.

· An oyster-shucking machine.

· A silver nose for those missing a nose of their own.

· A bed which in the morning tilted its occupant straight into a waiting bath.

· A vase made of mutton fat and lard.

More here.