The Return of the Intellectual Packrat

By way of apologia for having been Away From Keyboard for a couple of days, have a couple of nifty research sites.

The Memoirs of Pascal Bonenfant.  The site name notwithstanding, this isn’t actually anybody’s memoirs; rather, it’s a collection of research sources and links for 18th-century social history.  There’s a database of thieves’ cant, and a page with recipes from a period pharmacopoeia (I really want to know what the “Powder of Millepedes” — Take Millepedes prepared 12 grains; Saffron 3 grains; Flower of Benjamin, Salt of Amber, each 2 grains; Ginger 1 grain; Oil of Aniseed 1 drop; Bring all to a Powder — was supposed to be prescribed for), a “List of the Flying Coaches, Stage Coaches, Waggons, and Carriers” going in and out of London in 1721, and a plethora of other fascinating things.

And then there’s the Food Timeline page.  If you want to find out the wholesale price of wheat in Philadelphia in July of 1762 (5.5 shillings the bushel), or the cost of a  Thanksgiving turkey in New Jersey in 1931 (39¢ a pound), this is the place to look.

Because if you really want to write about the past and make it real for your readers, you don’t just want the wars and the politics.  You want the food and the drink and the furniture of everyday life as well.

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