Just like us, people of the past used all kinds of handy little devices and gizmos. And the relatively recent past holds so many interesting things that we’ve never heard of and even struggle to imagine. These things were absolutely normal and quite common during that time. But a lot has changed over the years, and some of them look totally alien, strange, and absurd to us today. So, we’ve got a fun challenge for you! We’ll show you a picture of a strange object from the past, and you’ll have 5 seconds to guess what it was used for!
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Use of the guillotine: By Wellcome Collection/Wikimedia, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35998503, https://wellcomecollection.org/works/wtscubqg
A number of different devices were invented to administer smallpox vaccinations. Invented by Mallam in 1874, this device is curved to fit a childs arm. Four double blades are triggered from the base using the lever on top. All of the blades would have been prepared by being dipped in lymph material from the pustule of a person already vaccinated. Pustules are skin blisters filled with pus that appear approximately five to eight days after vaccination. Vaccination did not give life-long immunity.: By Wellcome Collection/Science Museum, London, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36207456, https://wellcomecollection.org/works/qdff67un
Chair, German, 17th century: By Wellcome Collection/Wikimedia, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36331169, https://wellcomecollection.org/works/mxcurvwr
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– #1. This is a face cover that women in Europe used in 1939. It was to protect their makeup from the elements!
– #2. If you figured out that it’s a robotic cat that was invented in 1963, then you’re right on the money! Back in the day, the problem of rodents was much more urgent, and people tried to think of different ways to scare them off.
– #3. It’s actually a tonsil guillotine that was used in the 1920s. Obviously, medicine has come a long way since then, and the methods they used at the start of the 20th century weren’t exactly humane like they are now.
– #4. This is a dental key that was introduced in the 18th century.Well, you see that claw at the end? That was used to extract teeth.
– #5. This device is called a scarificator. This thing was invented in 1874 to administer the smallpox vaccine by creating four small wounds in the skin.
– #6. It’s called a food pusher, and it was used around the end of the 19th century. Its only function was to teach toddlers to eat correctly. They used it to push their food to the spoon or fork and then ate it.
– #7. This is an inkwell and pounce holder that was used in Europe in the 20th century before we ever had ball-point pens.
– #8. The thing you see before you is actually a carpet stretcher from 1860. The spikes on the bottom stretch the carpet and smooth it down, and the cup is for nails or tacks.
– #9. It’s not an itsy-bitsy flask, it’s an antique perfume pendant that was used in Europe throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Obviously, things were not as hygienic then as they are today, and the stench of city streets was often unbearable.
– #10. It’s a real light bulb that was used during WWII, and its purpose was to hide the presence of people in houses while still providing some light.
– #11. This is a 19th-century egg cutter! It’s pretty easy to imagine how it works. You put a soft-boiled egg into a cup top side up, clamp it into this device, and squeeze until it cuts through the shell.
– #12. This is a parturition chair, and it was used in the 1800s to help deliver babies. I mean, you don’t really need an operator’s manual, it’s pretty self-explanatory. The pregnant woman sat in the chair, and the opening in the middle gave midwives access to deliver the baby!
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