Life Tips from the Early 20th Century

Posted April 30, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

From the beginning of the 1880s, cigarette manufacturers issued trade cards with every cigarette package to help stiffen the packaging and advertise cigarette brands. It didn’t take long for the cards to become sought-after collectables, and even children would ask smokers for their cards to play their games. Manufacturing of the cards stopped during World War II to save paper and, after the war, they were never fully reintroduced.

Although it may seem unusual now, these cards typically depicted images of actors, athletes, nature, military heroes and city views. Many other cards offered helpful hints for everyday life, recipe suggestions and tips on how to handle emergency situations.

Check out some of these life hacks from a hundred years ago:

How to make fire without wood:

Life tips from early 20th century cigarette cards

“When lighting the fire, it may be you have no wood to kindle the coals with. A good substitute is to use pieces of paper screwed into twists as the picture shows. Two or three sheets of newspaper are quite sufficient to start a judiciously built coal fire.”

Gardening tips:

Life tips from early 20th century cigarette cards

Don’t make the mistake of planting too close to trees. “Herbaceous plants set too near trees and large shrubs will not thrive. Not only do big trees shade the plants and so rob them of sunlight and rain, but the spreading roots fill the ground and monopolize the food-material in the soil.”

What to do if you burst your tire:

Life tips from early 20th century cigarette cards

“When a spare wheel is already in use and further tyre trouble is met with, severe damage to the tyre can be avoided by stuffing the cover with grass. The tube should be removed and as much grass as possible forced into the cover which may then be levered back on to the rim. This device will enable the motorist to proceed very slowly either home or to the nearest garage, without damaging the tyre beyond repair.”

How to “swat that fly”:

Life tips from early 20th century cigarette cards

“Flies spread all sorts of diseases and it is essential to keep them down. As the result of experiments it has been found that a small amount of ordinary borax sprinkled daily on the dustbin, which is one of their favorite haunts, will put a stop to the breeding of them in this undesirable germ-producing spot.”

Blow over a brick:

Life tips from early 20th century cigarette cards

“This is a seeming impossibility until one properly applies the force of pneumatics. After the failure by your friends to accomplish the feat, take a paper bag and stand the brick upon it; now gather up the mouth of the bag and blow into it a good puff of air: the brick will be easily overturned.”

DIY fire extinguisher:

Life tips from early 20th century cigarette cards

“Dissolve one pound of salt and half a pound of sal-ammoniac in two quarts of water and bottle the liquor in thin glass bottles holding about a quart each. Should a fire break out, dash one or more of the bottles into the flames, and any serious outbreak will probably be averted.”

Images: New York Public Library

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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