Victorian Nipple Rings
November 10, 2015 8:50 AM   Subscribe

A longtime legend in the piercing community has it that during the Victorian Era, young women from England were briefly caught up in the fad of having their nipples pierced. It was all the rage, and then it went out of style. It’s one of those stories, like Julius Caesar’s own pierced nipples, or King Tut’s stretched lobes, that seems made up, or at least padded with potential exaggeration. It’s the sort of thing that raises eyebrows, challenges how we think about Victorian Culture (The same people who supposedly covered their table’s legs because they too closely resembled female ankles were getting their nipples done?) and just plain seems impossible. Except it’s all true and then some.
posted by sciatrix (60 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am on pins and needles waiting for Part 3. Great post!
posted by Rock Steady at 9:00 AM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I have been waiting for Part 3 literally since mid-October so I could FPP it; today I gave up and posted it in the hopes that the Irony Gods would smile on me and have the author post it this afternoon. Either way, the first two bits are super cool!
posted by sciatrix at 9:01 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's interesting, but am I reading this correctly – the only source is a single magazine? I wonder if there's any corroborating evidence. "The English Mechanic and the World of Science" pretty much seems like the real deal, though.
posted by koeselitz at 9:11 AM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


The supposed prudishness of the Victorians is fairly well known to be a myth now, especially that table leg thing.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:11 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


"And this is probably the biggest, most important thing I’ve gleaned from the research. Even in the 1890s, the best advice people had was to seek out an experienced piercer. Not only did such people exist, but they had parlors and studios even back then, where piercings were done by experts. So these weren’t random people piercing themselves."
posted by stoneweaver at 9:15 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It’s one of those stories, like Julius Caesar’s own pierced nipples, or King Tut’s stretched lobes, that seems made up, or at least padded with potential exaggeration

A lot of these (including the Roman-soldier-nipple-piercing one, and also the famous one about Prince Albert having a Prince Albert) apparently go back to a few things written during the early days of the modern body-piercing scene by Doug Malloy, who was himself a fascinatingly weird guy.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:22 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes, having seen the custom-built fuck-chair of that eminent Victorian and arbiter of men's fashion, Prince Bertie, I am under no illusions about the sexual proclivities of the Victorians.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:26 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


The supposed prudishness of the Victorians is fairly well known to be a myth now, especially that table leg thing.

I am not sure it is so much the Victorian era per se as the notion that several of your great-great-grandmothers may have been sporting nipple piercings. It is a bit like finding out that all four of your grandparents were in a foursome fifty years ago.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:28 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I'd be really excited if this turned out to be true, but I'll admit I'm still a little suspicious. The Victorians did get up to some kinky shit, but all else equal I wonder whether "Victorians create poorly-documented nipple-piercing subculture" or "One Victorian publication succumbs to Penthouse Forum effect" is more plausible.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:28 AM on November 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


Where can I learn more about the false prudishness? I can Google but wondering if there's a fav book or site.
posted by sio42 at 9:30 AM on November 10, 2015


"Prince Albert? In a can? No, my good sir, in my cock."
posted by klangklangston at 9:30 AM on November 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Though honestly, the idea of a bunch of strangers in the 1800s roleplaying out their piercing fetishes by sending increasingly detailed fantasies to the letters-to-the-editor page of an unsuspecting science magazine is pretty awesome too, so I'm in favor of this either way.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:33 AM on November 10, 2015 [28 favorites]


This totally changes Maggie Smith's character in Downton Abbey.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:36 AM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


a lungful of dragon: "This totally changes Maggie Smith's character in Downton Abbey."

Yes. Totally changes it. Absolutely.

Because surely nobody here was watching Downton Abbey through the prism of "what if all of these people are secretly tattoo'd, pierced, and into BDSM and they're just not showing THAT part of it", ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I watch my TV my way, goddamnit
posted by scrump at 9:40 AM on November 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


stoneweaver, quoting from part 2 of the article: "And this is probably the biggest, most important thing I’ve gleaned from the research. Even in the 1890s, the best advice people had was to seek out an experienced piercer. Not only did such people exist, but they had parlors and studios even back then, where piercings were done by experts. So these weren’t random people piercing themselves."

Yes, but the research seems to be solely in a single magazine's run. So I'm kind of wondering if there's anything beyond that: if these parlors and studios existed, why is there such a paucity of documentary evidence? I'm curious to see the next installment, because though it sounds like it still follows along with the magazine, it at least sounds like it includes some verifiable details.
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 AM on November 10, 2015


Didn't these get snagged on their corsets?
posted by humboldt32 at 10:04 AM on November 10, 2015


The supposed prudishness of the Victorians is fairly well known to be a myth now, especially that table leg thing.

Sssshhh! You're ruining the narrative. Next thing you know, people will be finding out that we have regressed to a new Puritanism today.
posted by fairmettle at 10:08 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


The notion of prudishness in the Victorian era had been debunked for some time now. After all, it was during this period that some of our greatest porn books were published.
posted by Postroad at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just want to point out that there's a Contact Us link on that web site where you can report the missing link to Part 3.
posted by Awfki at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2015


Didn't these get snagged on their corsets?

No, because one wore a chemise or under-bodice between one's skin and the corset. The chemise could be washed; the whale-boned corset could not.
posted by headspace at 10:21 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


if these parlors and studios existed, why is there such a paucity of documentary evidence?

I doubt they were "piercing parlors" the way we think of such institutions today. That one of the letter-writers cited a jeweler as their piercer is illuminating; this was probably a sideline for jewelers, surgeons, and other people with either precision handicraft skill or medical knowledge, not a full-time practice.
posted by jackbishop at 10:23 AM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


"One Victorian publication succumbs to Penthouse Forum effect" is more plausible.)

Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Color me skeptical, too. Not that Victorians weren't wild fantasists, they were, but if this is the only evidence of a widespread piercing culture, then it's insufficient, from a historical point of view, to assert that there was such a culture. The letters have the breathlessly lurid tone of a lot of Victorian "shock-me" writing.

Ear piercing really was widespread and that is very easy to prove with both documenntary sources and artifacts - the jewerly itself. Nothing like that saturation for this topic, so there's especially little basis for saying it was "common."

Interesting, but needs more rigor.
posted by Miko at 10:25 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now I'm curious about the Prince Albert / dressing ring thing. It's a persistent story, that Victorian men would put a ring through their penis specifically to tie it down to make the trousers fit better. It seems entirely improbable, but now I wonder.
posted by Nelson at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2015


Can someone please explain to me how that chair works.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me how that chair works.

Ha, I'm glad I wasn't the only one who wondered that!

(From googling, it looks like it was intended to let Bertie fuck two women at once. So one's on the top cushion with her feet in the upper stirrups, and the other's on the lower cushion with her feet in the second set of stirrups.)
posted by asterix at 10:34 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


yes, me too. the chair is either optimized for several positions, or what Asterix said, or I dunno. Albert was famously...full-figured...so I do wonder how much of it was designed for HIM to avoid fatigue, rather than for any complicated positions.

WHO CAN SUPPLY A RELEVANT INFOGRAPHIC?
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:38 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where can I learn more about the false prudishness?

You might be interested in Inventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


The volume of English Mechanic to which the author refers is here; you can find the articles he's describing by searching for "wounds." However, I cannot get to the original article that started this off, which appeared in the October 8, 1888 issue--strangely missing from the online volume, which ends in August. Nor can I find any other sign of "Jules Orme's" existence, assuming that it's not a pseudonym.

There are some slippages going on, as what the EM correspondents describe appears to be a French and apparently Eastern European phenomenon--ergo, not what comes to mind when thinking of "Victorian" (and nobody in the 19th c. thought the French were prudish!), which some enterprising British and American individuals are trying for themselves. If they were actually trying it for themselves, that is, and not putting one over on the editor. (At least one respondent suspects that shenanigans are at work.)

As for prudishness: that depends on date and context, really. The famous "piano legs in skirts" originates in a story mocking American prudishness by an Englishman, Captain Marryat (and later Victorian British writers usually invoked it to distinguish authentic modesty from, well, what the Americans thought modesty was), which some historians suspect in turn have been an example of an American teasing an Englishman. Early Victorian (1830s) mainstream fiction is much less "coded" in its representations of sexuality than mid-Victorian fiction (1850s), which in turn is far more coded than anything published in the 1880s or 1890s. But that's only one venue. Mainstream publishing? The pornography trade (visual and written)? Men's club talk (what we have recorded of it--Thackeray's, for example--can be explicit as anything from the 21st century)? Different types of upper- , middle- , and working-class meeting places?
posted by thomas j wise at 10:45 AM on November 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Some context about the paper:
The English Mechanic was a weekly newspaper published from 1865 to 1926. Its readers spanned the world. What made the paper famous was not "news", but its constructional articles and letters sent in by its' readers, who effectively took over the paper and named it "ours".
Ah ha. And here's a review of a recently released digital archive of the journal from the British Journal for the History of Science, found on JSTOR:
The English Mechanic was one of the most successful of all nineteenth- and early twentieth
century British commercial periodicals aimed specifically at artisanal, 'practical' and scientific
readers. Built on the example of the Mechanics' Magazine and similar cheap technical serials of
the 1820s and 1830s, the English Mechanic and World of Science enjoyed a huge circulation
(reaching an estimated thirty thousand in 1870) and within a decade of its launch in 1865 it had
absorbed many of its rivals. For a penny, readers could digest articles explaining new inventions
and scientific theories, 'practical hints and useful recipes', lists of patents, book reviews, adver
tisements, readers' notes and queries and a correspondence column that became legendary for
staging fiery exchanges, usually between a regular group of pseudonymous writers, over such
topics as the flat earth, electricity, screw cutting and spiritualism.
Ah ha again. I'm starting to get a better understanding of the source. The journal appears to be a mix of serious and sensationalist content, so I'd say the appearance of a topic (especially in its letters column) does not inspire massive confidence in its factual accuracy as to social habits. I just read another summary of an exchange about "belts and indigestion" in which someone writes in that they've cured their indigestion by wrapping a steel and leather belt around his waist, and someone replies, doing him one better by touting the "unmasculine" cure of wearing "stays like ladies wear" (corsets) and talking about how many "gentlemen of sedentary employment have derived benefit from use of stays." Though I've actually encountered that practice in other sources, after reading about some of these letter exchanges, I think it's seriously impossible to tell what is earnest, what is parody, what is flamewar, and what is trolling.

In fact, as I read this article "Some Old Controversies in the English Mechanics" from the journal about its own history, I'm really charmed by the similarity of the correspondence it published to online japery in comments sections - complete with handles like "Sigma" and "The Harmonious Blacksmith" and exaggerated-to-the-point-of-ridiculous arguments and longstanding animosities and rivalries and, generally, the same kinds of nonsense that happen here or on reddit. To me, this kind of continuity in human communication via mass media is at least as interesting as the "risque" stuff that gets a lot of notice. I mean, to how many of us could the following apply:
"E. L. G." became a veritable thorn in the side to all and sundry in matters sacred and profane, astronomical and economical. Proctor and"Sigma" and many others tilted at him in return. He spared none, but often sent two and three lengthy letters in a single week of from one to two columns' length each. Clearly he was not of opinion that"silence is golden."
posted by Miko at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2015 [22 favorites]


So I'm kind of wondering if there's anything beyond that: if these parlors and studios existed, why is there such a paucity of documentary evidence?

I, at first, am not surprised that nipple piercing would be even relatively commonplace in Victorian times -- but this is a good point: City Indexes were particularly common at the time, essentially a 'phone book' of addresses and businesses indexed by location, including people's occupations when listing their home address. If there are explicitly-identified piercing parlors, it shouldn't be too hard to look a few up, then compare to online newspaper archives with full-text searching, of which there are many. Even if there's not long-form descriptions of the goings-on, it should be easy enough to find evidence of their existence if only because they advertised the service.

Also: wouldn't having a chain connecting the two rings be difficult for women, given the form of women's clothing at the time?
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:10 AM on November 10, 2015


This article presents some good evidence that Victorian era nipple-piercing was actually a thing.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:24 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Interesting, but needs more rigor.
posted by Miko at 1:25 PM on November 10 [1 favorite +] [!]


some hard science?
posted by ennui.bz at 11:55 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, by someone with a penetrating intellect. If anyone knows of such a person, please give 'em a ring!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Can someone please explain to me how that chair works.

Er, my best take on is that the lady would typically rest upon the upper cushion in either a supine or a prone position as she saw fit, employing the stirrups and possibly the handles as needed to secure herself. The gentleman, I should imagine, would place his feet in the lower footrests so as to gain purchase* and -- again as needed -- reach forward to the upper handles to keep steady during his exertions. The lower level, I do not see an immediate use for and I might deem it merely ornamental flourish, although I daresay two or more persons in an erotic frenzy might find some creative employment for the surface and welcome the padding in such a situation.

I feel as if I have just riffed on Edward Gorey's The Curious Sofa.

*I cannot be the only guy in the world who has hooked his toes on the footboard of a bed when up to no good.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


It is a bit like finding out that all four of your grandparents were in a foursome fifty years ago.

This (admittedly delicately-handled) subplot ruined 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' for me.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:49 PM on November 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


No, because one wore a chemise or under-bodice between one's skin and the corset. The chemise could be washed; the whale-boned corset could not.

I may have been too meta. Apologies.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:55 PM on November 10, 2015


I cannot be the only guy in the world who has hooked his toes on the footboard of a bed when up to no good.

You mean, like, trying to put a too-tight fitted sheet onto the mattress? Been there.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:57 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


This article presents some good evidence

What's the "good evidence" exactly? Even following that link through to the H-Net discussion shows that the argument relies there on a German document titled something like "The Education of John Bull," which from the very title sounds like a parody about the English which might take enjoyment in accusing them of salacious practices, and is based on the same kinds of anonymous magazine sources as in the FPP.

I think I agree with this person:
I am not doubting that these practices (including nipple-piercing) did or
may well have existed: what I am querying is the huge edifice of assumption
about a widespread fashion for nipple rings throughout British society
during the 1890s, on the basis of correspondence in one, single, journal
with a track record of letters clearly appealing to, and possibly written
by, a fetishist market....I have come across so many other cases of the perpetuation of myths and
misunderstandings of Victorian sexual life that perhaps I am inclined to
over-interpret in the other direction. Nonetheless, I am quite strongly of
the opinion that the existence of a 'modern fashion craze' of 1899 that can
only ultimately be documented from this one source, which is one presenting
significant problems around interpretation, must be regarded with
considerable scepticism.
Like, I think there is a lot going on with these letters, and they say a lot about the nature of Victorian society and interests, but what they don't say is that this was a common practice. They say that pseodonymous fetishists may have found it interesting to write about, that parodists enjoyed "Yes, And"-ing it, and that the overall effect in print was pleasing to someone.

In other words, chances are this really is like trying to write a history of cheerleaders or stepmothering by using Penthouse Forum as your source, or speculating about how common a particular sexual practice is in the lives of regular people (by which I mean, not performers) by referencing porn.
posted by Miko at 12:59 PM on November 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah nebulawindphone got it right earlier. Loads of contemporary projections-back of piercing history rely on Doug Malloy's made up histories. That he, who was extremely motivated to produce actual historical evidence had to invent most of it makes me think the practices didn't exist. He was also born in 1915 so when he started moving in those circles there would have still been actual living Victorians in them.

If nothing else a particular piercing will only gain widespread popularity once you can reliably get it to heal and a lot of modern piercings aren't consistently possible without pure modern materials. Nipples in particular are often a bastard to heal and the kind of jewellery that's presented as examples of bosom rings simply ain't gonna work for the vast majority of people
posted by coleboptera at 2:50 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


From doing a brief corpus search of The Pearl, I've been unable to turn up any mentions of nipple rings, jewelry, piercings or adornments. I'd think that if it was part of Victorian erotica, it would be mentioned there.
posted by klangklangston at 4:51 PM on November 10, 2015


How to Use the Love Chair
posted by elsietheeel at 5:30 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


How to use Prince Bertie's sex chair
Lady #1, feet in stirrups
King, feet in foothold, braced on handlebar
Lady #2, sliding like a mechanic under a car, between the king’s legs

Thomas Jefferson named his sex furniture ‘Fitzpartner’
posted by ohshenandoah at 6:15 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


How to Use the Love Chair

I love that the drawing has the man wearing a top hat.

I'm also unconvinced by the evidence supplied; it sounds like much is being made of a few people getting piercings plus a lot of overheated Penthouse Forum style imaginings. ("Dear English Mechanic: I never thought it would happen to me, but...")
posted by Dip Flash at 7:00 PM on November 10, 2015


Yeah nebulawindphone got it right earlier. Loads of contemporary projections-back of piercing history rely on Doug Malloy's made up histories.

...though for what it's worth this one depends on a source that pre-dates Malloy, so if this shit is made up, it was made up independently of him.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:03 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems like a fair number of people were capable of making it up, and in all honesty, it's not the hardest thing in the world to think of, especially in a culture in which ear-piercing is becoming more common for the middle class and ethnographic photography is starting to become available for mass consumption, showing all sorts of body mods not standard in Victorian England and the US. The idea was available for people to speculate on. I just think there's a massive difference between imagining it and a bunch of people actually doing it (especially, as noted, with the sanitation issue being what it was).
posted by Miko at 7:17 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


In fairness I actually reckon there's a reasonable chance that it's true. A handful of letters is hardly a mass-movement. Modern materials were necessary for mass adoption of piercing but Victorians were people too so at least some of them must have given it a go for the laugh. There are always people with unusual skin or heroic immune systems that can heal anything you shove through them so at least some of them would inevitably have been successful.
posted by coleboptera at 7:27 PM on November 10, 2015


A few random people? Realm of possible.

Common? Well-known? The evidence doesn't support that assertion.
posted by Miko at 7:36 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm highly skeptical. If the practice originated in late 19th Paris, as suggested (One correspondent writes that breast-rings are often mentioned in the feature pages of La vie parisienne and Fin de siècle in connection with ladies of the demi-monde.), it would be common knowledge. Paris was then something of an open-air brothel, courtisans were the celebrities of the time and there's a lot of material available (written and photographic) about the sexual proclivities of the fin-de-siècle French bourgeoisie. If nipple rings had been a thing, Caroline Otero or Liane de Pougy would have been the first in line to get them and they'd be mentioned in the (massive) erotica production of the time. I had a look at the 1893 issues of the Vie parisienne. Unfortunately the text is not searchable, but the ads are about what we can expect: beauty and hygiene products (including treatments for venereal diseases), fashion shops and collections of pornographic pictures ("extracurious groups", "English beauties"). So, yes, primary sources are needed there.
posted by elgilito at 3:16 AM on November 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Thomas Jefferson named his sex furniture ‘Fitzpartner’

I'd love to see another citation for this; everything I can find online leads back to that one blog post and the one photo. Without verification I'm a little skeptical this has anything to do with Jefferson, although the idea is delicious. FWIW Fitzpartner was also a real horse Jefferson bought in 1799.
posted by Nelson at 9:08 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd want more on that too, especially because chamber horses were a thing that were very popular among the elite at the time, and a non-sexual thing at that - indoor exercise for gentlemen.
posted by Miko at 9:18 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, yeah, formally calling BS there because I did a reverse image search on the "Jefferson horse" and found out that it was made by desginer Mark Brazier-Jones for a 2010 contemporary art exhibition called Bling Meets Baroque at The Vyne, a British National Trust property.

It's amazing to follow the Google trail of how this photo came loose from its moorings and became associated with Jefferson and sex. Another great case study.
posted by Miko at 9:42 AM on November 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Nicely done Miko! I got as far as finding the image on Flickr but couldn't find the photo page associated with it and didn't want to go through the trouble to remember the back-door way to find a photo page by image ID in Flickr. (Alternately I should have just read the blog comments; the hoax is called out there.)
posted by Nelson at 9:48 AM on November 11, 2015


Heh, I totally didn't even notice that (I may be taking "never read the comments" to the extreme)!
posted by Miko at 9:51 AM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


So while it was a "single magazine", the magazine was sort of like what I'd have called an APA back in the 80s. The articles were numbered to make it easier to send letters to the author (not the editor) which would be published in the next issue and replied to in the next. And it sounds like the articles were pulled from slush piles of user-submitted essays.

The source here isn't so much the magazine as it is the comments section. You can sneer at it if you like, but this is the kind of material that a lot of historians and anthropologists tend to prefer, because it's less carefully reviewed and edited and can reveal just the sort of contextual clues that were covered in this series. So while I wouldn't treat the original article as a very useful primary source, the surrounding conversation seems a little more reliable.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2015


this is the kind of material that a lot of historians and anthropologists tend to prefer

I am a historian. I would not say that this kind of material is "preferred," just (as I said) that it is interesting for what it is and, like all primary sources, must be read critically and contextually. I think you're pointing out that the material in question does not represent official culture and it's not prescriptive, but it is edited, and edited to keep the readership turning pages. As you'll have seen if you've read more than a few of the comments portions and/or the retrospective article I linked to, the social culture of this magazine's comments section is not (only)the sharing of straightforward accounts and serious arguments, but to engage in parody, hyperbole, ridicule, wordplay, character assassination,one-upmanship, etc., not unlike a comments section today. Read contextually, it's easy to know that we aren't reading something like depositions given to police or first-person accounts by home visitors. Not all of these narrators can be trusted, and it would take a lot of longitudinal reading to situate any one of them along a verity/falsity spectrum, and even then, I expect they'd vary. Also, they could change their pseudonyms each time they wrote, dashing any real hope of understanding individual perspectives with any continuity. Any reading of this material that doesn't take the "letters" section and its user culture for what it is is going to result in error.
posted by Miko at 1:49 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


The description of the actual piercing in part three does sound remarkably like how modern piercing is done. Damn, now this is making me want to go get my nipples pierced again.
posted by saucysault at 3:38 AM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


“I must confess I felt very qualmish, and almost repented having consented to it.”

Ooh, a sighting of "qualm" outside of the usual idiomatic phrase "have no qualms"! In adjective form, no less. This is a ribald tale.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:21 AM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Even if piercing was less common than claimed, that description does sound accurate and not just some fantasy like some of the earlier quotes.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:26 AM on November 13, 2015


It's exactly how they pierced ears (1880 patent, one from many), and they routinely pierced animals' ears and noses, so it wouldn't take a ton of imagination. Again, not saying it never-ever happened. But there's no reason to think it was common, well-known, or that more than a very few people encountered it.
posted by Miko at 6:21 AM on November 13, 2015


Ooh, a sighting of "qualm" outside of the usual idiomatic phrase "have no qualms"! In adjective form, no less. This is a ribald tale.

And in your comment, an even rarer instance of qualm in the singular. It is one of those nouns like throe, alm, amend, and cahoot that seems to exist only in the plural.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:59 AM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


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