During the Victorian era, upper-class ladies had an interesting way of avoiding highway robbers when traveling by coach – the infamous carriage covers. They were gold or enamel orbs designed to cleverly conceal jewelry, much like a portable safe for expensive gems and jewels.
Of course, depending on the woman’s social class, these orbs could be gorgeous and ornate (which might defeat the purpose if you ask us) or quite simple. Sadly, few covers from that era remain and are rare treasures to come by nowadays. So, if you manage to get your hands on one, it may literally be worth its weight in diamonds!
Physicians, surgeons, and other medical practitioners in the Victorian era faced a severe challenge — how to make strides with breakthroughs when dead bodies were nowhere to be found? Without capital punishment as an option for offenders, doctors had few opportunities to conduct experiments.
And so, this gave rise to a new breed of criminals: the resurrectionists. Despite their ritzy title, they were nothing more than grave robbers and organ traffickers who supplied doctors with fresh cadavers. The lack of available employment made the high fees paid by doctors even more attractive, so much so that people had to stand vigil over gravesites just to keep them safe.
The Human Garden Gnomes
In what was one of the most bizarre trends of the Victorian era, wealthy landowners kept living garden gnomes on their lawns. Think of your typical ornamental garden gnome, only instead of being made of ceramic, it was an actual human being. This human was usually a grizzly old man that lived in solitude in a secluded hut in the landowner’s garden.
These hermits represented wisdom and solitude and thus made landowners appear intellectual and deep. In fact, these hermits were often paid a lot of money to purposefully not bathe or change clothes for years to look more solemn.
The Little Chatelaine Belt
Since men were the ones that handled money and other large items back in the Victorian era, women’s dresses had minuscule or no pockets. This gave way to the famous Chatelaine – which means “female head of the household” in French, since she was the one who always held the keys to the palace.
The Chatelaine was a very elegant belt clasp that was worn at the waist, and it had several chains that hung from it. Each chain held another item – watches, perfume vials, pencils, scissors, smelling salts, and other everyday items. Of course, as bags started to appear, the cute little chatelaine slowly disappeared.
They Sent Eyes as a Sign of Affection
Another bizarre trend of Victorian times was the “Lover’s Eye,” a gesture of adoration where one would send a portrait of their eyes to their lover. It started with Prince George of Wales, who was the first one to send a miniature painting of his eye to his secret beloved, Marie Fitzherbert.
This gesture of love became so popular that Queen Victoria herself had several eye portraits commissioned. The portrait was at once a clear picture of the eye and a piece of jewelry since they were often embedded in a locket. For Victorians, to have someone’s eye meant they had their gaze, their look, and, therefore, their unwavering attention.