Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Gifts From The 1800s

I have been busy lately trying to pick out Christmas gifts for everyone on my list. It made me curious about what some of our ancestors gave each other for Christmas. I went to the Kalamazoo Public Library website and looked in the Kalamazoo Telegraph every five years from 1870 until 1890. Some items haven't changed, like hats, scarves, gloves and alphabet blocks. Another kind of gift that has stood the test of time? Books. As William Shakespeare (the purveyor of books in Kalamazoo, not the bard) advertised in 1870 “literature suits itself alike to the tastes of each, and a book can be selected that will give to each more satisfaction, and carry with it a more pleasing and more lasting rememberance [sic] of the giver than silks or silver, toys, dolls or diamonds.” [Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 12-12-1870, P4, col3] 

One thing that may or may not surprise pet owners is that giving gifts to man's best friend was being practiced in Kalamazoo as early as 1890. One advertiser suggested that “mothers” should buy a “suit or a cape overcoat” for their pets. [Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 12-9-1890, P4, col1]

Some things, though, are definitely not on a typical wish list these days:

  1. Worsted embroidery and beaded landscapes at d'Arcambal's Millinery Rooms [Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 12-12-1870, P4, col2]
  2. “Fine furs in seal, otter & mink” from M. Israel & Co. [Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 12-22-1875 P4, col7]
  3. Elegant hair brushes, cloth brushes and hand brushes as well as “beautiful cut-glass toilet bottles” for cologne, bay rum, camphor, &c.” from Colman's Drug Store [Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 12-18-1875, P2, col7]
  4. Alabaster fancy articles, doll handkerchiefs, linen collars and cuffs as well as sleeve buttons and shirt studs from Miller's. They also advertised two-button kid gloves for 85 cents, fine quality kid gauntlets for $1 and hip gore corsets for 40 cents. [Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 12-18-1875, P2, col4]
  5. Odor cases and whisk broom holders at McDonald's Drug Store [Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 12-23-1885, P7, Col1]
  6. And what woman wouldn't be thrilled to come home to “any one of the numerous styles of handsome coal stoves” from DeVisser & Co. [Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, 12-23-1885, P6, Col4]

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