According to historians, tales of mermaids and mermen can be traced back to the Babylonian sea deities Oannes and Atargatis in 1000 BCE. Since then, mermaid folklore has appeared in every era and every culture, from ancient Greece to Victorian England. But mermaid lore was not limited to the realm of folklore and mythology. During the nineteenth century, mermaids appeared with some regularity in art, literature, and music. They also featured in the nineteenth century news, with both sailors and coastal residents reporting real life sightings of mermaids well into the Victorian era.[…]Continue Reading
Among fashionable Victorians, there was no parlor ornament so elegant—nor so diverting—as a clear glass globe filled with glittering goldfish. It was considered to be educational for children who, according to author Charles Nash Page in his 1898 book Aquaria, could learn more in a few hours of observing the goldfish than in “many days spent with books.” It was also believed to be beneficial for invalids since watching the goldfish swim was “health restoring” and “restful to the mind.” By the middle of the 19th century, goldfish globes had become so popular that an entire class of street-sellers had risen up to fill the demand. Operating in both London and the English countryside, these “goldfish-hawkers” were a common sight—especially in the vicinity of the homes of the wealthy and the well-to-do, where they preferred to ply their trade.