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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Several people made the observation that yesterday's post may have been from two gay men who were looking for wives to put a veneer of legitimacy on their close friendship.  For a second I was all disappointed that this burst the bubble of my beautiful dual love story - until I realized that this theory potentially provides an even more fascinating and enthralling love story!  Fine, I'd feel a little sorry for the women who married these guys who were really in love with each other, but what a wonderful idea that these two men may have found each other in an era in which doing so would have been so difficult.  How satisfying.

In any event, the two following ads are of an entirely different nature, and not even necessarily about love (the first...maybe), but I found them so interesting that I am posting them anyway.  Hey, it's my blog after all.

Dr. - "Let her lean on an arm faithfully strong, which, as unto its socket, to her doth belong." As written in "Bachelor Studies" (of which is not FRED the author?)

Whaa...?  I did some hunting and found very little of use.  "Bachelor Studies" is a pretty useless Google search term; as you imagine, what mostly comes up is references to colleges and getting your bachelor's degree.  I found a book with that title from the same year as this ad, but it's not by Fred, and it's not as if whatever the author's referring to here had to be written the year the ad was published.  I also searched for the lines in quotes, but had no luck there either.

Which isn't to say I can't make a good guess about what the quote means - as confusing as it is - it's got to be suggesting that some woman should rely on her man, to put things as simply as possible.  But the rest of the ad is quite an enigma.  Who was Fred?  Why does it matter that he was the author?  What's the point of the ad in the first place?  What coded message is being sent here?  This is why I say it might be about love - that one line hints at the idea, but whether or not the meaning actually had anything to do with a relationship is impossible to really ascertain.

Now this next ad is not about love at all (well, not directly), but it is entirely unique.  I've never seen anything like this before:

To mariners and owners of ships - A lady in trouble wishes to dispose of a Caul and Veil, born with her child. Address, stating terms, Mrs. S, station C.

Crazy, huh?  Now I know very little about this sort of thing, but I had heard before of the superstition that the caul of a baby could bring good luck to sailors, but in the late-nineteenth century I would have thought that would be pretty outdated.  According to the admittedly random website I've linked to, this was more of a medieval belief, not one from an era so relatively recent.  This is not to say there weren't people who still had superstitions - obviously, there were, and I imagine still are today.  But I wonder if there really were sailors or shipowners who would still actually go buy a baby's caul in the 1870s.  I honestly don't know.  I guess anything's possible.

Poor lady, indeed, to be in so much distress as to try such a method to get money.  Somehow I get the idea that the trouble she's in was directly connected to the baby, and that there's no father in the picture.

Anyway, I just saw this and thought it was too fascinating to ignore so I invite your comments as always.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein


Bianca C January 21, 2010 at 10:18 PM  

I think this went way beyond medival times, I kind of remembered in David Copperfield, his caul was auctioned off, and that was written the late 1800s. I googled David Copperfield caul, to see if I remembered that right, and found this as well:

And I found the passage from David Copperfield:

I was born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going people were short of money about that time, or were short of faith and preferred cork jackets, I don't know; all I know is, that there was but one solitary bidding, and that was from an attorney connected with the bill-broking business, who offered two pounds in cash, and the balance in sherry, but declined to be guaranteed from drowning on any higher bargain. Consequently the advertisement was withdrawn at a dead loss ... and ten years afterwards, the caul was put up in a raffle down in our part of the country, to fifty members at half-a-crown a head, the winner to spend five shillings. I was present myself, and I remember to have felt quite uncomfortable and confused, at a part of myself being disposed of in that way. The caul was won, I recollect, by an old lady with a hand-basket.... It is a fact which will be long remembered as remarkable down there, that she was never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at ninety-two. (Charles Dickens, David Copperfield)

There, now you have more info about cauls than you ever wanted to know LOL!!

Pam January 22, 2010 at 11:08 AM  

No - that's really interesting. Thanks for that DC passage. It's amazing to me that people still took things like this seriously.

Breuk January 22, 2010 at 11:10 AM  

First of all to Bianca, great find.

I wonder what kind of "trouble" she was in.

Melynda Huskey February 17, 2010 at 3:07 AM  

Probably financial trouble, don't you think? The other common superstition about cauls, also mentioned in David Copperfield, is that the child born with a caul could see ghosts. My own daughter was born cauled and veiled (it's just the amniotic sac), but has not yet seen any ghosts, to my knowledge

Pam February 17, 2010 at 7:51 AM  

Melynda - without a doubt - financial trouble. I think she's been deserted by the father - I wonder if they were ever even married - and is desperate for any money at all.

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