Fat Hands

she used to sit in this cafe, and just face the wall. And it wasn’t coffee she was drinking

Pears Shilling Cyclopaedia

Posted by Alix on 3 November 2007

I’m a somewhat laidback collector of Pears Cyclopaedia, a habit which died down a little after I realised that it’s hard to find any published before 1970 and having a lot of very similar reference books from 1970-1985 gets old kind of soon. So, when I spied a copy in a charity shop claiming to be a ‘Facsimile of the First Edition’ of the Pears Shilling Cyclopaedia I was intrigued. Published in 1977, it appears to be a faithful copy of the 1898 edition (Wikipedia says the first edition was 1897, but what I have says 1898), replete with copies of the original adverts. It has less sections than later editions – containing dictionary, general knowledge, lists of synonyms and antonyms, ‘desk information’, gazetteer and maps, cookery and pastry, language of flowers and medical information. Some of it is interesting, so seeing as it is NaBloPoMo I’m going to post snippets from it until I get bored (although I have failed the NaBloPoMo challenge by not posting from the start of November. Oh well). I do tend to find this sort of information endlessly amusing, possibly this interest is not shared by others, so I will try to limit myself.

Today, we begin with the Desk Information section. This is on ‘Subjects of Daily Reference’ and includes handy sections such as ‘poisons and their antidotes’, ‘Judges etc – forms of addressing’, and ‘gas meter – how to read’.

In Growth of the English Language – “The agricultural labourer uses about 1500 words but this is probably an overestimate”

In The Post Office – “No letter, except to or from a Government office, must exceed 24 in. by 12 in. by 12 in.”

In Slang Terms for Money – “Blunt, brass, dibs, dust, rhino, the ready, mopuses, oof = money generally”

In Hints as to using books – “Never lend the borrowed book, but return it as soon as you have done with it, so that the owner may not be deprived of its use”

In British Museum – “35 Labourers and Window Cleaners receive from 24s to 30s per week ; 22 Boy Attendants receive from 12s to 15s per week.”

In Cautions in visiting the sick – “Do not visit the sick when you are fatigued, or when in a state of perspiration, or with the stomach empty, for in such conditions you are very liable to take the infection”

In Notes on Etiquette – “Anyone meeting at the house of a mutual friend and not introduced, should not claim acquaintance if they meet elsewhere”

“Morning calls are usually made between the hours of two and four”

“On making morning calls , a gentleman should not leave his hat in the hall, but take it into the room with him, holding it in his hand during his brief stay. Leave your umbrella in the hall”

“When out walking with a friend, if you meet or are joined by a third party, it is not necessary to introduce one to the other”

“In walking with a lady always take the outer side of the pavement”

“At evening parties…do not remain to the close unless you are on very familiar terms of friendship with the hostess”


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