Women routinely caught fire in the mid-19th century


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/22/bobbinet-muslin-gauze-tarlatan.html


#2

SOME women. Not all let the man be the one who wore the pants in their family.


#3

“It’s really a wonderful cotillion we’ve got going on here folks, the ladies look just lovely as they twirl and dance around the candlelit floor, young Miss Armbrewster is making her way through a throng of tobacco-smoking admirers and oh, she’s…burning! She is running and on fire and now. . .oh god no, now oh, four or five debutantes are engulfed in flames. It’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. The smoke and the flames now and the hoop frames are crashing to the ground, not quite at the bandstand. Oh, the humanity and all the young girls screaming around here. I told you. It’s – I can’t even talk to people whose friends are here. It – It’s…I – I can’t talk ladies and gentlemen. Honest, it’s completely a mass of smoking wreckage and lacy ash. And everybody can’t hardly breathe. It’s hard, it’s crazy. Lady, I – I – I’m sorry. Honestly, I – I can hardly breathe. I – I’m gonna step outside where I cannot see it. Charley, that’s terrible. I – I can’t…Listen folks, I – I’m gonna have to stop for a minute because I’ve lost my voice. This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.”


#4

Oh, but it can be so beautiful!


#5

it’s still ridickulous that furnishing fabrics don’t have a certain standard as do most gloves sizes


#6

Well, it’s no longer routine, but I have seen both men and women catch fire in the 20th century.

Pro Tips for bonfire jumping!

  • do it naked or don’t do it
  • NO HAIR PRODUCTS
  • if you smell burning hair, it’s you
  • you can put out hair fires with your hands

#7

The farts trapped under those skirts probably didn’t help either.


#8

Rich women routinely caught fire in the mid-19th century.


#9

i catch fire on a regular basis


#10

I don’t think that ballet dancers were all rich.


#11

So flammable were these garments that when other women would rush to the aid of a blazing friend, they, too, would go up in flames.

If I can’t stop laughing about this, am I a bad person?


#12

Maybe less a bad person than one who should wonder how their imagination got hijacked by cartoons?


#13

Uh… looks like the heads got photographically swapped or came from other subjects.


#14

From the linked article:

Machines also mass-produced these delicate fabrics for the first time, which gave women of every social class access to them, making death by fire a widespread phenomenon.


#15

I dunno. The suit looks to be fitted for a female body. Or a very chesty man with good birthing hips.


#16

It got more interesting in the 1890s with the commercial introduction of the first “artificial silks” based on nitrocellulose dissolved in ether and acetone.

Billiard balls made from nitrocellulose sometimes exploded. I imagine a dress would burn intensely.

Some wags called it “mother-in-law silk”.

See also: Guncotton.


#17

Looks even better fitting than Merritt Wever’s costume in Godless.


#18

She looks very dapper. I’d wear that for sure.

I do wish he’d ironed his frock, even though satins can be so tricky.


#19

But hoop skirts make walking in long layers of skirts SO MUCH more comfortable!


#20