Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Universal Advertising Sheet, Part 5

Let’s see what interesting shreds of personal and social history we can read about, courtesy this week of the Monthly Compendium of Literary, Fashionable, and Domestic Advertisements from the August 1810 edition of La Belle Assemblée...


JOHN FELL, sole inventor of the PORTABLE WIND-UP SHOWER BATHS, respectfully informs the Public that he has ready for Sale, a number of the above universally approved Machines, at his Warehouse, 161, High Holborn, near Broad-street. This invention has received, as it is undoubtedly entitled to, unlimited Patronage. There is a Moveable Cylinder, so admirably contrived as to furnish the utmost facility in filling, and afterwards by gradually elevating it, to produce a shock in such proportion as the feelings, age, or habits of Bathers may require. It is, moreover, made to take to pieces, and pack up most conveniently.—Price from Five to Seven Guineas.—N.B. J.F. is Inventor and Vender of the Corking Machines so much in present use.

Showers weren’t so much used for getting clean as they were for a sort of do-it-yourself  health treatment, rather like sea-bathing was done for curative, not recreational, purposes. Interestingly, when I went to look for more information on Mr. Fell, I found mention in 1887 of a John Fell and Co., suppliers of bath and lavatory valves and beer machines and bar fittings—which covers both his shower baths and the Corking Machines mentioned in the ad. 


The Clubs met with great success in the last Lottery at HORNSBY and Co.’s, Cornhill; part of the 20,000 l. sold by them, was divided among Thirteen jolly Watermen of St. Catherine’s; besides Shares in the Borough, and many other places in the Metropolis; and also at Liverpool, Bath, Chester, Taunton, Leith, and Deal—Many Clubs are now forming from Gravesend to Richmond, and every other place in the Kingdom; and additional £20,000 in the present Lottery, to be drawn October the 19th, creates a strong desire of adventuring.

Lotteries were quite the thing at this time, as Regina once posted about here...but I love the “Thirteen Jolly Watermen of St. Catherine’s” touch in this particular ad.

Rational, Pleasing, and useful.
No. 14, Tavistock-street, Covent Garden.
Greatly Enlarged.

The Public are respectfully informed, that valuable and expensive Works, in every class of Literature, are daily added to this Library; which now consists of sixty thousand Volumes of modern Publications, really valuable, useful, and entertaining.

Catalogues and Cards of the terms may be had on application at the Library.

Books were expensive to purchase outright; a typical three-volume novel could run upward of several guineas for a heavily illustrated tome. Enter the subscription library, where for a fee books could be borrowed before the free public library became a fixture of philanthropic giving later in the century.  Even small towns and villages could often boast of at least one small one, and London and other cities were rife with them, and advertised their wares frequently...as we can see here.

1 comment:

QNPoohBear said...

An episode of Sanditon features a shower bath! Here are some period images of shower baths in a post by The Two Nerdy History Girls. https://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2015/06/taking-shower-in-1800s.html

The Duke of Wellington enjoyed an invigorating shower bath and yikes... here's an account of a shower bath NOT being helpful "“Lady Worcester died after a week’s illness of inflammation brought on by going into a cold bath after dancing at the ball at Carlton House."

The duke seems to have popularized it since I see other names pop up in my search.

About the subscription library- while I love the public library, the subscription library has a to-die-for atmosphere and plenty of old books to drool over. (Plus modern books, DVDs, a children's library and great programs.)