Remember that thing called ‘communicating with the dead ones’? The Victorian period was the heyday of spiritualism. There were many séances where mediums produced phenomena as table rapping, ghost materialization and ectoplasm. Most mediums were women since it was thought that women are more prone to talk to the dead since they are more sensible creatures.
The nineteenth-century also had an attraction for everything Egyptian related therefore there was a certain practice widely popular- the unwrapping or unrolling of mummies. The public attended lectures and exhibitions specially organized for the audience to see self-titled experts cut into the mummies they’d purchased at previous auctions.
Live in the nineteenth century was a very tricky thing since unsanitary environments, poor sanitation, tainted water and may others made life expectancy pretty short for the average person. Therefore, there were lots of deaths and funerals. Since these people were so bored, they started to create a whole new industry which offered mourning clothes, stationary, funeral wreaths, funeral biscuits, mourning jewelry. It became a true game and show to participate to a funeral.
‘Animal magnetism’ or hypnotism was a quite mesmerizing and fascinating activity for the nineteenth century people. They often used hypnotism for setting up shocking show. They would mostly hypnotize men and women to become insensible to pain and then they would make them pass surgical needles to their forearms to delights the audiences.
Since there was nothing to do for fun, may Victorians believed that it would be somehow interesting to keep and collect different useless things. Some even created ‘a cabinet of curiosities’, meaning a room where oddities of all kinds from zoological, botanical, archaeological, etc. were gathered and displayed. One of the most famous ‘cabinet of curiosities’ was P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, New York, where 15,000 patrons a day could stare at the Feejee Mermaid, living whales, somewhere in between1841 and 1865.
You are extremely wrong if you still believe that Internet invented porn. Actually, nineteen century gentlemen had a fine taste for hardcore erotic literature and photographs. They were extremely creative and included scenarios of D/S, BDSM, fetishes in settings like girls’ school or churches. These pornographic materials were sold under the counter and purchased in great secret. You can only imagine the thrill of a pornographic literature owner.
Many Victorians collected and appreciated animals of the stuffed variety. Potter’s museum in Bramber, Sussex (England) was a very popular touristic attraction and many people were delighted at the Great Exhibition of 1851 when hundreds of stuffed hedgehogs were exposed to the public’s greedy eyes.
In search for fun and interesting activities, Victorians used tea leaves, palm reading, the good old crystal ball, everything needed to see the future. There were also many forms of divination practiced by young women to find out important information about their future husbands.
Henri Rivére created the Théâtre d’Ombres in Montmartre district in 1887. This theatre employed a twenty-voice choir, an orchestra and Japanese-style puppets. The beauty of the shadow plays was much appreciated. Rivére produced forty-three shadow plays until the theatre closed in 1897. It was a big success and a great entertainment source for all Victorian people
In England, somewhere in the nineteenth century there was a sort of a ‘Fern Rush”. In a time when everything botanical was ultra-fashionable, in 1855 pteridomania (collecting and cultivating ferns) spread like chicken pox. Victorians organized ‘fern expeditions’ to the Continent (Europe), Asia and beyond to bring wild fern species home. They got so crazy about this ‘fern hunting’ that some species became threatened and even extinct.