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 How did people smell in the 1800s?

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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

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PostSubject: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 10:40 am

How did people smell in the 1800s? I_outg19
We were watching an old film on Turner Classic Movies the other evening and my mind began to wander because the action, if you could call it that, centered on the love affairs of rich people in 1847. The setting was France, so as all the characters were wastrels I was thinking it was time to set up the guillotine again.
Some of the scenes were in crowded ballrooms so I started wondering how people smelled in those days. This happens, too, when I'm watching a western and you see a bunch of cowboys whooping it up in a saloon.
Aware that in 1847 you couldn't stop by a drugstore and pick up a Mennen's Speed Stick I said, "I wonder how people smelled back then?"
This was not a subject of appeal to Jackie so rather than the flippant, "With their noses," that I expected she said, "Maybe they had a different diet so they didn't smell."
Not for a minute did I buy that theory. I recalled reading of how Ben Franklin was loathe to bathe so one day a woman said, "Mr. Franklin, you smell." Ben looked her up and down before replying, "No, Madame, you smell. I stink."
After a few more minutes of watching tortured romance it dawned on me that women doused themselves with perfume in those days. Unfortunately some still do.
But what about the men? Surely they didn't need to apply a manly scent in order to smell like a man. No, that's a 21st century development. If a man fails to shower for a week, women flee when he walks into a room, but if he does shower every morning all he has to do is spray himself with any number of manly scents on the market and the girls will swarm over him like crows on roadkill. I know this because of seeing TV commercials.
I have been unfortunate enough to be on elevators with manly-scented men. It may not be quite as bad as being trapped in a small box with a woman who was liberal in applying perfume, but it's close.
So while I have not come up with a positive answer to my question, it seems there is little doubt as to how rich people smelled in France in 1847 or the fragrance emitted by cowboys in the Old West. Jackie still doesn't want to talk about it or even think about it. That's just how people are today.
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Abe F. March
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Abe F. March

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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 11:34 am

In the 1800’s there was a perfume in France
called, “"Parfum a la Guillotine." That even sounds dangerous.

For the most part, I think men used a scented powder.

Remember Dick, you were talking about France and not the wild west. Remember the shirts with the fluffy sleeves? That should tell you much.
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JoElle
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JoElle

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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 12:38 pm

Yes. Gentlemen of high society in th 1800s wore cologne to hide body odor.

I'm just glad you didn't bring up halitosis, which was also common before Crest and Colgate became routine.
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 2:27 pm

I do know that the reason people didn't smile in photos was usually because they had very bad teeth. Just thought I'd add some expertise here. Sleep Sleep

Carol
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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 2:42 pm

Odd, but our dentist says the worst invention in history was toothpaste. The mixture of baking soda and peroxide used prior to that was much better. Or so he says.
Another reason people didn't smile for the camera in the old days is that you'd have to remain perfectly still for quite some time. Maintaining a smile was impossible. When looking at many of the phony toothy grins seen today, I think that was a good thing.
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JoElle
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JoElle

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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 2:50 pm

Dick Stodghill wrote:
Odd, but our dentist says the worst invention in history was toothpaste. The mixture of baking soda and peroxide used prior to that was much better. Or so he says.
Another reason people didn't smile for the camera in the old days is that you'd have to remain perfectly still for quite some time. Maintaining a smile was impossible. When looking at many of the phony toothy grins seen today, I think that was a good thing.

Oh great! Just wait ... some one is going to post an ugly, missing teeth photo now !! Shocked
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Pam
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 3:41 pm

I for one don't object to the men that are lightly scented in some manly cologne. I can't help it.
Women lightly scented are okay too most of the time, and I fall into that category except when I go out because there are oodles of places around here where they ask you to avoid wearing anything scented. Apparently bug spray is okay otherwise you couldn't stay out, but for the most part we're supposed to try and smell like nothing at all. *sigh*
pirate
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Betty Fasig
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 5:20 pm

There are plenty of old farts and the new and degenerated generation of new farts in the south that think applying a deodorant inhibits the flow of the natural juices of mankind.

Does Eau De Dead Onion ring a bell.

I find that people who are against deodorant are also against daily bathing. If God meant you to smell like a dead and rotting onion, he would not have invented water, much less the wonderfull people at Dial Soap!

Get a bath, inhibit your underarm emissions, be kind to your friends.

Love,
Betty
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zadaconnaway
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zadaconnaway

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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 9:32 pm

And go easy on the parfum!! I have allergies and can smell certain ones a mile away! Unfortunately some people still bathe in colognes and perfumes. Maybe they use them rather than expose their skin to water. I like the light scents on either sex, or no scent at all as long as the deodorant works.
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Abe F. March
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Abe F. March

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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptyFri Aug 08, 2008 10:45 pm

When any perfume is applied to the skin, the resulting scent varies with the person's body chemistry. In any event, using less is best. A hint of a great aroma has an attraction.
Using perfume to cover up bad smell is the worst thing one can do. Combining rank body odor with lots of scent can even drive animals batty.

PS. In the selection of any perfume, place a small amount on the skin giving it time to react to your body chemistry, and then get someone elses opinion. Samples are great for this purpose.
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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 6:58 am

Dial soap? I'm shocked, Betty, that you didn't use a Lever Brothers soap such as Lever 2000, Irish Spring or Lifebuoy in your example. When Lever Brothers gave my dad a job in 1931 it was all that kept me from starving and it enabled us to move out of our Model-T Ford into an apartment. So Go Lever!
How did people smell in the 1800s? 921805 How did people smell in the 1800s? 973110
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JoElle
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 7:30 am

Irish Spring!!!

Fresh and clean as a whistle!


How did people smell in the 1800s? 973110
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Jim Woods
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 7:43 am

From a hunter's point of view, when we're off on an extended hunting trip, hunters will not use soap at least the day before, maybe two, and after four or five days in the wilderness, can smell very "natural." I'd say we smell as our 1800 couterparts did. As for applied scents, hunters will use certain human odor masking devices beyond just the lack of soap, and those "perfumes" can be pretty rank--doe urine, for instance on your boots and pants cuffs so you leave a trail on the ground that attracts the bucks. Not too different, though, than the little does in the cities.

Jim Woods
www.ultrasw.com/jwoods
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P. Gordon Kennedy
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 8:47 am

I wonder what they smelled like back in the middle ages when they only took a bath once or twice a year......Yuck!
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A Ahad
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 9:07 am

Abe F. March wrote:
Combining rank body odor with lots of scent can even drive animals batty.

That especially attracts the wasps... and if you do it in late September, they sting you.
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madhatter
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 9:32 am

Um...here's a thought...if everyone around you didn't bathe, would you notice if you smelled as foul? tongue

I think of the old westerns where they sewed themselves into their long underwear until spring. The upside to that--I'm sure they didn't have to worry about repelling insects as much.
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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 11:19 am

You wouldn't notice, Rhett, and I speak from the experience of not taking a shower for well over two months. Others were in the same situation and there were far worse smells around and that may have helped. I sometimes did wonder what the civilians thought when we'd enter a town or village.
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thehairymob
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 11:27 am

Bathing in the west wasn't something most people did up untill the mid to late 19th century. Before that one bath a year around May was common and for this reason most marraiges took place in June. I only know this because of the research for my new book I'm working on. I've been looking into the 17th century onwards and finding it quite a brutal time to live glad I am in this time frame.
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P. Gordon Kennedy
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 11:28 am

When you're around a smell or a sound or anything of that nature all the time, you'll tend to not notice it. It's basically because when you're exposed to something all the time, your sensory cells get tired and stop responding to it. In simpler terms, your brain cells get bored and go to sleep.
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flashgordon
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 11:44 am

I'd agree with Gordon, you get used to the smell. Remember, also, that dirt is a great neutralizer. That is why many people would "shower" with dirt in the Old West (following the Natives) since it would cut down on the smell as well as give you a refeshed feeling in between rivers or water holes.
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rainbow689
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 5:01 pm

well given my problems with showering, bathing, washing and deodorising
guess ya better call me '1800 Rainbow' from now on! At least for the
moment I can't smell myself!

afroHow did people smell in the 1800s? 401565How did people smell in the 1800s? 402987
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 6:16 pm

Rainbow,

I can only imagine, as I know those problems of mobility. Some things I've found help is not sitting in one position too long, and when I do get up, I walk around for awhile.

I sure feel for you, really. I hope someone is bringing you food.

Okay, back to the 1800s.

Carol
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rainbow689
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySat Aug 09, 2008 6:33 pm

Carol Troestler wrote:
Rainbow,

I can only imagine, as I know
those problems of mobility. Some things I've found help is not sitting
in one position too long, and when I do get up, I walk around for
awhile.

I sure feel for you, really. I hope someone is bringing you food.

Okay, back to the 1800s.

Carol

Thanks Carol luckily in the RV there's bits to hold onto and re food a
guy fron the RV park came down with me to the supermarket and I got 7
nukeable tv dinners in the cooler
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thehairymob
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySun Aug 10, 2008 7:09 am

To a certain extent you are right that you do get use to the smell but in 19th century London the smell from the city streets got so bad that parlaiment was suspended because of the smell and a commission was set up to find a salution which led to the modern sewers being built for the first time. The same system for getting rid of the waste is still in use today. Oh and at the time London was known as the Big Stink because you could smell the city from miles away. Very Happy
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: How did people smell in the 1800s?   How did people smell in the 1800s? EmptySun Aug 10, 2008 7:42 am

Then there is the fresh country air of rural Wisconsin. The house we lived in for 27 years backed onto a large 360 acre field, sometimes planted in corn and sometimes in hay. The field would be fertilized when the barn was cleaned out. When our daughter was going to be married in our back yard, I made sure I gave my farm neighbors an invitation!

Now, our new development borders on the Wisconsin Research Farm and before building, we signed a paper saying we understood this entity was a neighbor and sometimes there would be "fresh country air" in the neighborhood.

Carol
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