Victorian Inventions Vol. 2 : Safety Is Not An Option

During the early years of the Industrial Revolution, a lot of kinks had to be worked out.  Many things which we take as trivial today could be seen through a Victorian’s eyes as a spark of genius.  Ever heard of the term “The best thing since sliced bread”?  Back then…genius.  The idea of getting onto an aircraft and not meeting a horrible untimely death due to flammable substances…a dream of the future to an inventor.  How about  waking up in the morning and not using a chamber pot?  Since I have no idea what that was like I’m just going to say congratulations to the invention of modern plumbing.

As promised, here is another ten wondrous inventions conceived during the Golden Age of Invention.

1.  Hydrogen balloon – The classic!  A smashing hit!  This wondrous contraption exploded on the scene…literally…quite literally.  One of the many things Victorians knew soon enough was that the hydrogen in their hydrogen balloons not only lifted them to knew heights above the ground, but it is also, tragically, a highly flammable substance that ended with the balloon and its occupants falling to the ground like the stones nature intended us to be.  But did that mean they had to give up?  Not in a H.G. Welles shot in hell!  Airships and hot air balloons were still a mode of transportation well into the 20th century.  What is a little fiery catastrophe every once in an often while to the future of modern flight?

2.  Automated Wine Tasting – You seriously thought they would pick up a bottle and pour it?  Not a Victorian!  They invented this lovely device to evade that pesky task of dauntingly picking up a wine bottle and pouring it sloppily into a glass.  Now, all that needs to be done is simply holding the glass at the tap and flipping the handle!  Simple genius I must say!  Soon after one…or several too many tastes of the tasting service, that tap will look strikingly harder and harder to operate.  No worries!  That butler that would have poured that bottle for you but whose job was outsourced by the automated barrel will make sure to now flip that pesky flipping tap for you.  Full circle wouldn’t you say?  And this is still in use today by many wineries for a casual, lifting free experience.  No butler included…no butler really necessary.

3.  Pneumatic Clocks – I still prefer the good, old-fashioned wound kind, but a clock is a clock right?  This mode of time telling was very popular in Paris in the mid 19th century.  Then again a Parisian could find a park bench stimulating enough given the correct dose of Absinthe.  By harnessing the power of the wind, man has yet found another suitable way of being evermore lazy. Winding clocks was a tedious task and taken very seriously. Though successful, most clocks (some had underground tubes leading into people’s homes!) might have a cracked tube that might release pressure which would cause said clock to lie about the time.  Most of these clocks were tragically tortured then executed.  Are there still pneumatic clocks around?  If so, they would be splendid!

4.  Phonograph – We’re talking about the earlier ones!  The first generation of phonograph.  The one you had to avoid running into when you entered the room since it took up most of the floor space!  And so simple to use!  Just place the phonograph in a room and make sure the recoding cone is placed directly to the instrument about to be recorded.  I’m talking right at the thing to where it seems like the cone could swallow the instrument.  Then be very quite since it most likely will barley record the sound to start with.  Sometimes I have to imagine that even today’s music cannot rival the angelic sounds generated from a phonograph.  Like you’re listening to demons talking under water.  Still, these devices were later perfected to have brilliant clarity…for the times.

5.  Cigarette Holder Camera – How the physics of this device works I honestly do not know.  How does one inhale the cigarette if there is a camera in the way?  And to be perfectly honest, why do you need such a device if you are not a spy or mastermind?  I know!  It’s to catch all those candid moments at the party of a carousing couple and so you whip this holder open and WHAM! you strike the shutter.  So what if the first cameras were long exposure and you had to remain perfectly still to get a clear picture and therefore your candid shot is nothing more than a massed blur.  It’s the memory after the pictures developed of the moment you say “What was this again?” that really matters.

6.  Pre-electric light buoy – I see nothing wrong with this idea.  It is brilliant, absolutely brilliant!  A floating device in the ocean that is generated by flammable oil in a not so water proof container.  I would trust that with my life.  After I slipped over board from my cruising yacht I would just swim straight to this flaming box and then rock it back and forth until I set myself on fire.  It’s a good thing I’m in the water at this point, to douse the flaming inferno that the oil rubbed onto my clothing where my body would then peacefully float until I would be found.  Now the real question is not the faultiness of the buoy but as to what color my hat was…silly Victorian deduction.

7.  Le Flou-Flou – Do you have naturally straight hair?  Do you hate the fact that curls are in and you just turn up at the party flat?  Do you hate being socially scorned based on the lack of wave in your tresses?  Then allow this awkwardly named, over priced package of unassumingly ordinary ribbons do the trick!  You could pay far less for normal ribbon to curl your hair at night, but everyone would know…they would know you used something else.  They will laugh at you.  So buy this and make sure you remember to put them in…or your husband will divorce you and your ugly straight hair.  Now I bet you wish for those therapists right about now don’t you?

8.  Automated Perfume Dispenser – Will the laziness ever end?!  How long does it take to pick up the bottle and spritz yourself?  Honestly?  A three year old can take better care of themselves!  But if you have to be lazy, go ahead and outdo yourself.  Just permanently bolt this to your wall, put your favorite, most expensive perfume inside and hope that it never leaks…and that it will properly dispense.  That’s it!  And you will never have to worry about remembering to put on perfume again since the automated button most likely will stick and constantly shoot the aromatic substance about the room.

9.  Pocket Machine Gun – For the gentleman murderer.  Carrying a weapon was common in Victorian times but sometimes it might be difficult to hit your mark.  No longer!  This eliminates any need for superior marksmanship of any kind. Winning a duel has never been so easy!  This is overkill at it’s most refined.  Note:  Please watch your hands!  Know that now accidents are quadrupled and the risk of shooting oneself multiple times is greatly heightened by the increase in the number of bullets.  Also, there is more evidence for police to follow.

10.  Photo Rifle – For once in your life, you can smile happily while looking down the barrel of a gun!  Some photographers prefer this method of photo taking because it is more balanced and it delves into familiar territory with many.  For the photographer, this may be the only chance they get about fantasizing killing you and making it feel real for them.  And for the lucky recipient of the picture, nothing says “Smile for the camera” than looking straight into the cross-hairs of a rifle aimed at your head!  I bet those are some of the most nervous looking pictures if they could be found.

For the first edition visit:  Victorian Inventions – What Could Go Wrong?



  1. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your posts, I guess I am not the only one having all the leisure here! Keep up the good work.

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