Just how poisonous was Napoleon's wallpaper?
September 15, 2007 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Pau. Nay. Loron. will be more of fire than of blood,
To swim in praise, the great one flees to the confluence.
He will refuse entry to the Pius ones,
The depraved ones and the Durance will keep them imprisoned.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 3:40 PM on September 15, 2007

Yay! What an odd, fun mystery. Thanks. :)
posted by kavasa at 4:06 PM on September 15, 2007

Just love these kinds of historical stories. Thanks for the interesting post YamwotIam.

A related story, Don't Chew the Wallpaper- A history of poison

Lead was used in cosmetics for thousands of years and did untold damage.

An old friend in India told me how a friend of hers died because of the lead paint crumbling from the ceiling and falling into an elderly person's face/mouth over many years.

Death by deliberate poisoning plays a big part in the first century of Caesars' lives with the villain, Livia, being the malicious Cruella. Wonderfully told tale in I, Claudius, the BBC series.

That Grand Illusions site, of your strange story link, has wonderful, geeky gifts as well. I want.
posted by nickyskye at 4:31 PM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

The David Jones of the investigation of Napoleon's wallpaper is also the author of The Inventions of Daedalus and The Further Inventions of Daedalus, collected from a column of the same name which ran for years in Nature.

For all their studied absurdity (and no one has studied absurdity more deeply), none of his 'Inventions' lack that essential grain of plausibility, and an afternoon spent among them can be as inspiring as amusing. It's interesting to see what he's been up to.

I first heard of the mold which could metabolize arsenic used as a preservative in wallpaper into trimethyl arsine and waft it harmlessly (to the mold) away before getting down to the primary business of das Fressen in an older popular German book about poisons, and it made me wonder about all the arsenic used in wood preservatives in the US up until a few years ago (and I still do wonder).
posted by jamjam at 4:40 PM on September 15, 2007

I bet David gets asked about his locker all the time.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:15 PM on September 15, 2007

In the 1950s the American ambassador to Italy, Clare Booth Luce, suffered from arsenic poisoning traced to peeling paint.
posted by CCBC at 5:58 PM on September 15, 2007

Why hasn't Vetinari posted in this thread yet?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:53 PM on September 15, 2007

Man! There are indeed lots of awesome things for sale on that site. A Gaussian Gun, Jacob's Ladder glasses cases, the amazing slinky + hula hoop Torofluxis, a ball that rolls down slopes really slowly, and a wobbling salt & pepper set.

Sorry to derail and blue up this thread, but that is some great crap. Don't miss the torofluxis video.
posted by ulotrichous at 10:04 PM on September 15, 2007

Fascinating article. The mold-releasing-arsenic aspect reminded me of some research I've read of suggesting that SIDS is due to a mold releasing toxic gas from mattresses treated with certain heavy-metal-containing fire-retardants. (Googling it just now, I find that followup research has generally not supported the theory, though.)
posted by hattifattener at 12:27 AM on September 16, 2007

Pope Guilty: He's waiting for Vimes to work it out.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:16 AM on September 16, 2007

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