October 2, 2022

A Victorian Trade Card, ca. 1892 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Even though the toxic effects from lead were not known, Documented as early as 2000 BC, the Victorians still used it to paint children’s toys.

The problem was the Victorians didn’t realize how dangerous lead could be and that even a small amount could prove fatal. Professor Andy Meharg Here are more details:

“Anything that was coloured or pigmented would have had high levels of a toxic metal in it. Even if it was white it wasn’t safe, there were large levels of lead even in white painted toys.”

What helped lead-painted toys appear harmless was that, contrary to other toxic substances, lead paint isn’t bitter, metallic-tasting, or foul — it is sweet. So, when children placed the toys in their mouths, they weren’t repelled by the taste or discouraged to repeat the act.

A Victorian advertisement featuring Dutch boy white lead paint. Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Children also swallowed lead paint particles that were fading off. This led to lead poisoning in which many children died in three stages. It was discovered that Charlotte Rafferty (a young girl) began to feel symptoms. “convulsions”It will eventually become obvious after some time. “lines along her gums” appeared. The third stage was death.

The blue-purplish lines found on the gums due to lead poisoning are called Burton’s lines.Lead poisoning can also be detected by kidney disease and anemia. Lead can cause brain damage and nervous system damage.

Lead can also enter the placenta barrier, causing serious harm to unborn babies. Although lead has many dangerous properties, it was not used widely in Victorian England. Dr. Suzanna found that the British used lead in coloring more than any other European country. Remarks:

“In the 1920s, white lead was banned in indoor paint products in Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, Spain, Finland and Norway, but not Britain. Amazingly, it wasn’t until the 1970s, more than 100 years after the problem had been identified, that the British government controlled the lead content of household paint.”

Advertisement for Victorian “Murder Bottle,” 1868 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

To make mother’s lives easier, the “banjo-shaped bottle” It was first introduced to the Victorian market. It was loved by many because a child could use it independently. It was a hit with Mrs. Beeton.

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In today’s terms Mrs. Beeton would have her catheterized as a “lifestyle guru.”She advocated breastfeeding over bottle-feeding, and Mrs. Beeton wrote about the innovative bottle in 1861.

“The nipple need never be removed till replaced by a new one, which will hardly be necessary oftener than once a fortnight.”

A fortnight is a period of two weeks, and the lifestyle guru’s advice proved to be fatal.

Advertisement for Victorian “Murder Bottle,” 1868 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The bottle with the banjo-shaped shape was made from earthenware, glass, and earthenware. The bottle’s neck was fitted with a long rubber tube.

The bottle’s unusual shape, along with the rubber tube, made it difficult for cleaning. Mrs. Beeton suggested cleaning the bottle twice per week to prevent bacteria growth.

Over time, a dangerous number of microorganisms were found in the bottle. This was combined with the sensitive and young nature of children proved fatal. After it was discovered that the bottle had caused the deaths of many thousands children, the bottle was eventually renamed. “murder bottle”Then, it was withdrawn from the market.

The use of murder pills reduced Victorian infant mortality. Only two out ten children survived past the age of two.

Victorian advertisement for condensed milk with boracic acid. 1889 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Victorian Era did not have refrigerators, so milk was delicate. Instead, they used ice bottles.

An ice box was a wooden storage unit with a lining of tin, zirconia or zinc. An ice block was stored in a compartment in the cabinet. An iceblock was not as efficient in keeping fresh milk and meat products as modern refrigerators. It would also melt throughout the entire day.

The Victorians had different ideas.

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Different types of iceboxes (Source : Wikimedia Commons)

Boracic acid, still used in insecticides was added to milk. It was added to mask the bad taste of spoiled milk. You were now off milk, boracic, and this caused stomachache and sickness as well as diarrhea. But that’s not the end of milk.

Victorian Era Pasteurization wasn’t properly done or regulated. Bovine Tuberculosis (also known as Bovine TB) was first discovered in milk. Bovine Tuberculosis is a serious infection that can cause severe injury to the spine or internal organs.

Many people were born with deformities from drinking milk, but it was children who were most affected. Approximately 500,000 children died from milk-related causes during the Victorian Era.

Source: How Toys and Bottles Killed Many Victorian Children | by Alema Ljuca | Aug, 2022

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