I Dream of Steam

I was cruising the Presurfer blog this morning, when I saw a post about steam-powered tractors. I know this sounds dim-witted, but somehow it had never occurred to me that steam-powered tractors were ever popular. According to Wikipedia, between the late 1800's and early 1900's "traction engines" were a big deal, and even played a role in establishing more cooperative farming (the machines were so valued that neighbors would join together to farm each other's land and make the work go faster?!). Anyway, since they were popular until lighter, more reliable gas tractors became all the rage in the 1920s, I figured I'd post a few pics of the hulking beasts, for your viewing pleasure.

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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