How to make nuts secure
March 25, 2017 11:02 AM   Subscribe

The New York Public Library has digitized 100 "how to do it" cards found in cigarette boxes over 100 years ago.
In the 1910s, Gallaher Ltd of Belfast & London and Ogden's Branch of the Imperial Tobacco Co printed "How-To" series, with clever hints for both everyday and emergency situations. From steaming out a splinter to stopping a mad dog, these cigarette cards told you the smart way to handle many of life's problems.
Cigarette cards: The life hacks of 100 years ago
posted by standardasparagus (54 comments total) 97 users marked this as a favorite
 


These are outstanding. Great find!
posted by Navelgazer at 11:23 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Ooh! I've always wanted a good way to preserve colorful autumn leaves!

Now I just need some spermaceti. o.O
posted by The otter lady at 11:40 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I feel these are the greatest thing since the remedy for the difficulty of cutting new bread into thin slices.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:49 AM on March 25 [37 favorites]


It's an alternate way to preserve colorful autumn leaves and probably ends up with a different result, but you can iron them between sheets of wax paper to sort of laminate them and they stay pretty well that way.

Google doesn't have any real sources for spermaceti listed in their Shopping link. I looked.
posted by hippybear at 11:54 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Excellent. I even like the puzzlingly frivolous one about how to draw a duck without lifting the pencil (it's not even a good duck drawing).
posted by Segundus at 11:54 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Dude did the Duck one on Friday and took off early.
posted by achrise at 12:10 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


But Google does have harpoons...
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:13 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


But what if I have a mad dog and no hat?
posted by tavella at 12:14 PM on March 25


But which cigarette brand printed cards of How-To Fails?
posted by carrioncomfort at 12:28 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I'm confused by the clock cleaning card. It doesn't illustrate someone getting punched in the face, Richard Spencer style.
posted by NoMich at 12:47 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


How to make a cork fit - stomp it!
posted by zakur at 12:48 PM on March 25


How to prevent eye glasses steaming.

I have an simpler "how to" for this one: don't go outside on a hot, humid night when in the South.
posted by NoMich at 12:55 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Extracting a splinter with a makeshift vacuum is actually pretty clever.

But I wonder what sal-ammoniac has to do with putting out a fire. Looking it up on Wikipedia gave no clues.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:12 PM on March 25


I was utterly baffled by "How to Blow Over a Brick" until I figured out that if you click the card, then scroll, you can get to an image of the text from the back.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:19 PM on March 25




How to substitute for a bodkin is prescient. Nowadays, nobody owns a bodkin, and safety pins are the standard tool to thread drawstrings, elastic, etc.
posted by BrashTech at 1:34 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


you can get to an image of the text from the back.

I'm glad there is an explanation as to why it's necessary to set your butter on fire to see if it's pure, because I wouldn't have guessed it.
posted by sfenders at 1:41 PM on March 25


They remind me of the tea cards I collected when I was a kid.
posted by pracowity at 1:49 PM on March 25




I love the illustrations and the designs! Thank you for posting them.
posted by Lycaste at 2:03 PM on March 25


Presumably, one uses the the safe method for discovering gas leaks while smoking a Gallagher cigarette.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:28 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


It's the cigarette all the gas workers smoke!
posted by hippybear at 2:31 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Hmm, my padlock does need a jaunty cover.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:57 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


I think more than anything else it's interesting seeing what they thought of as common household problems, or problems requiring a life hack, back in the 1900's.

Some are basically the same as problems of today, others are totally alien to a modern reader (the coal dust one, for example). It's a nifty window into how we used to live and the problems we had back then.

I also think some of them are baloney. I can't imagine that stitching your overall buttons to a bit of elastic does much good at all, except stretching out the elastic and making your overalls fit badly.
posted by sotonohito at 3:13 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


"A SIMPLE CURE FOR CATARRH - Take an pinch of ordinary table salt up the nostrils, just like you would a pinch of snuff ..."

well, you know, this catarrh thing, it's not so bad ...
posted by pyramid termite at 3:48 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]




Finally! Something to do with all of that coal dust. The attic room shall be mine again.
posted by Splunge at 3:51 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


Instructables!
posted by Miko at 4:07 PM on March 25


It's a trick card -- you can't make nuts secure while male fragility exists,
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:53 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


At a craft show, someone had nicely framed some of these cigarette cards in groupings, such as anatomy, famous boxers, pin-up girls, cats, and dogs. I'm kicking myself for not buying one. The illustrations are so amazing.
posted by Fig at 5:03 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


How to prevent eye glasses steaming.

That's what I do! Dawn dishsoap works really well for this, both for cleanliness and then subsequent steamlessness!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:07 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: for cleanliness and then subsequent steamlessness!
posted by hippybear at 6:36 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I love helpful hints and hacks and I enjoy seeing what tips were important back then. Actually, the tip on separating glass tumblers I will have to try next time this happens to me as I've broken a few trying to force them apart. I also want to try to see if sticking a rose in a potato will make the bloom last longer.
posted by SA456 at 7:13 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


"How to substitute for a bodkin is prescient. Nowadays, nobody owns a bodkin, and safety pins are the standard tool to thread drawstrings, elastic, etc."

I came in to complain that a safety pin is in NO WAY a substitute for a bodkin -- I own three -- and is vastly inferior in every possible way. The safety pin frequently fails at tasks the bodkin easily performs.

(I mean, Jesus, people, buy a bodkin or three, they cost like $5 for three in different sizes.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:15 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


But I wonder what sal-ammoniac has to do with putting out a fire.
It's long been used as a retardant, especially in fabric & timber, as the ammonia tends to cool the fire. Add salt, & it tends to smother the fire as it dries; add a carbonate instead (e.g. sodium carbonate) & you end up with a salt, CO2, & water.

Video & explanation here.
posted by Pinback at 9:17 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


So that's why my hurricane lamp's wick is not optimal [real].
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:49 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I came in to complain that a safety pin is in NO WAY a substitute for a bodkin -- I own three -- and is vastly inferior in every possible way.

This is why Hamlet never went on and on about his "bare safety pin."
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:30 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Today I learned what a bodkin was. Not sure how I got by in life without knowing that.
posted by octothorpe at 6:11 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: I came in to complain that a safety pin is in NO WAY a substitute for a bodkin
posted by mama casserole at 7:02 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


I really want to play table croquet but I don't know what an "ordinary button mould" is. Halp.
posted by drunkonthemoon at 8:05 AM on March 26


Wait...why would the bed be wet? Incontinence on the part of the previous occupant? A tropical climate? Recent flooding? When did we, as a species, solve bed-wettedness?
posted by the sobsister at 9:14 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Came in to figure out whether nut theft was a big problem in the 1910s, stayed for the bodkins.
posted by jferg at 10:08 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


i'd say the cleaning tips haven't aged
posted by maiamaia at 11:50 AM on March 26


Neat!

They kind of remind me of the printed instructions on paper wrappers for disposable chopsticks prevalent in the 80's (Canada, and 90's USA).

Don't really see instructions anymore.
posted by porpoise at 2:26 PM on March 26


I've done the research and I'm still not really sure what a bodkin is, but it sounds dirty.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:34 PM on March 26


I came in to complain that a safety pin is in NO WAY a substitute for a bodkin -- I own three -- and is vastly inferior in every possible way. The safety pin frequently fails at tasks the bodkin easily performs.

(I mean, Jesus, people, buy a bodkin or three, they cost like $5 for three in different sizes.)


Wire coat hangers are free and work just as well.
posted by Splunge at 2:56 PM on March 26


Thanks for sharing these. :)
posted by mordax at 3:58 PM on March 26


"I've done the research and I'm still not really sure what a bodkin is, but it sounds dirty."

I'm afraid to google it too. I don't want advertisers sending me pictures of a gherkin.
posted by surplus at 4:00 PM on March 26


Wire coat hangers are free and work just as well.

I'm trying to imagine using a wire coat hanger to pull a length of elastic or cording through a casing and failing. How does that work?
posted by Lexica at 4:17 PM on March 26


BODKIN FIGHT
posted by wreckingball at 8:12 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Not only did I learn how to deal with chilblains - I had to google them to find out what they are. And ew!
posted by Toddles at 8:25 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Wire coat hangers are free and work just as well.

I don't know about "just as well." I hate trying to straighten wire hangers against their memory and wrestling with their overlong tail.
posted by Miko at 7:23 AM on March 27


I really enjoyed these! Thank you very much! Next time I get a splinter I will know just what to do.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:37 AM on March 27


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