With the industrialization and urbanization of the United States in the early 1800’s, the American middle class experienced an increase in leisure time. The home gradually lost its traditional role as the center of economic production and became the locus of leisure activities and education under the supervision of loving mothers. As a result of this increased leisure time, the demand increased for children’s board games.
Category: 1800 Century
In the early 1800’s, women wanted clothing and accessories that gave them a “fullness” effect. Wide chests tapering to a narrow waist and widening back out at the hips, the “hourglass” shape became the desirable appearance for women. To achieve the sought after shape, women in the early 1800’s went through a cumbersome and complicated dressing routine that required many clothing items and multiple layers of apparel to achieve the “fullness” effect. By the late 1850’s, the affordable and easy-to-wear crinoline appeared which ignited a hoop skirt craze that lasted for well over a decade.
The Penny Farthing bicycle came after the development of the ‘Hobbyhorse’, and the French ‘Velocipede’ or ‘Boneshaker’, all versions of early bikes. However, the Penny Farthing was the first truly efficient bicycle, consisting of a small rear wheel and large front wheel attached to an iron tubular frame with tires made of rubber. It was widely used in the 1860’s.
In the 1850’s, the “poke bonnet” hat reached a zenith in women’s fashion. A poke bonnet is a women’s bonnet (hat) in the shape of a hood, featuring a projecting rim on the front side, which would shade the face of the wearer, and a small crown at the back. Poke bonnets typically had a strap that allowed the hat to be tied under the chin. It was called a poke bonnet because there was room in the back of the hat that allowed all of the woman’s hair to be “poked” inside of it.
Prize fighting, or pugilism or bare-knuckle boxing as it is also known as, became very popular during the middle 1800’s. Prizefighting is one of the oldest known sports. Two thousand year old paintings on the walls of Egyptian tombs depict ancient Sumerians competing in boxing matches. Boxing was an Olympic sport in 688 B.C. In ancient Greece, two men would sit face-to-face with fists wrapped in strips of leather, and strike each other repeatedly until one fell unconscious or was killed. Roman fighters wore leather straps plated with metal (called cestuses) in order to keep the lengths of prizefighting matches short.
From 1890 to 1900 was the greatest era in the history of chewing gum in the United States. The press, the pulpit, and the medical profession were largely occupied in denouncing the “vulgar” habit as detrimental to mankind. Sparked by an off-chance discovery of the perfect chewing gum ingredient, the chewing gum craze took off in early 1890 and continued its grand run for well over a decade.
Croquet was introduced to the United States in the early 1870’s. The sport was first taken up by high society in the New York area, but it soon achieved general popularity throughout the country. Lawn tennis was introduced here at about the same time, but from the 1870’s through the 1890’s, croquet enthusiasts far outnumbered the tennis players. A croquet set was mandatory equipment for every estate, and civic leaders provided sets for public parks, which previously had not had facilities for any sport played on grass.
Skates mounted to wooden rollers had been produced since the 1860’s (in Holland) but several innovative inventions during the late 1870’s and early 1880’s served to fuel the roller skating fad of the 1880’s. In 1876 a design for roller skates wheels was patented in England. In that same year the toe stop was invented allowing the skater to tip the skate onto the toe to stop. These innovations made roller skates practical for everyday use and set the stage for the roller skating fad that was about to come.
In 1893, the United States was introduced to a radical new form of dance. Although the public was initially shocked to see the sensual and titillating movement of the dancer, the Hoochie Coochie (or Hootchie Kootchie) belly dance caught on and became the precursor to the striptease type dances that would arrive generations later.