Pteridomania: The Victorian Obsession With Ferns

Pteridomania, meaning Fern Madness or Fern Craze, a compound of the word Pteridophytes (plants that produce neither flowers nor seeds), and mania, is believed to have been coined in 1855 by scholar and author Charles Kingsley in his book, Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore. He writes: Your daughters, perhaps, have been seized with the prevailing ‘Pteridomania’ … and wrangling over unpronounceable names of […]

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The White Glove Gardener: A Victorian Garden Guide

A compendium of knowledge and know-how for the horticulturally inclined Volume 1: Flowers Every proper Victorian lady needed to know a great deal about flowers. She needed, for example, to know their forms and colors when selecting her dress brocades, the fine  wallpaper for her boudoir, and the details of the upholstery of her parlor furnishings. […]

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craft supplies 1

DIY Victorian Valentine’s Day Cards

Giving valentines on February 14th has been a tradition for hundreds of years. Some of the earliest surviving valentines are from the 15th century, when small tokens of love such as poems and small hand-written love notes were exchanged. As paper and printing became far less expensive to produce and distribute in the 1800s, the […]

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Equine Paradox

Oakland’s Horse Whisperer

A school of horses? I never heard of such a thing! Turned loose upon the stage? It is extraordinary! Without bridle or rein, obeying every command with the precision of soldiers? Come now, this is too much. I don’t believe it! (The Equine Paradox!: Can you solve it? George Bartholomew, 1880) And yet it was […]

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Photographs of Camron-Stanford House by Reenie Raschke Photography