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Anachronisms

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sat June 13th, 2009, 7:54 pm

Would a small residence in San Francisco offered running water in the kitchen sink in 1850?
Oh, dear. I remember my grandmother's kitchen in Chicago some time in the 1950s - she had a small hand-operated pump for water in her kitchen. Granted, she was not the most up-to-date person - when she died in the 1960s, she still had the monitor-top refrigerator she had bought in the 1920s (the salesman told her it was a lifetime investment, and she took him at his word). But no, I can't see running water in SF in 1850.

And styrofoam in WWII France? (Frankly, I wish we didn't have it today.)
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat June 13th, 2009, 8:22 pm

The state of plastics in the early 20th century is easy to get wrong. But I do remember a real-life account of a woman who was being questioned for hiding Jews, praying for the opportunity to get rid of all the papers that she very foolishly carried on her person. It seems that one of the German officers had a newfangled plastic raincoat that would keep out the water, and while his fellows were exclaiming over it and testing the fabric by spitting on it, she was able to throw her incriminating packet out the train window.

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Margaret
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Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Post by Margaret » Sat June 13th, 2009, 8:28 pm

That sounds like a good scene!

By the way, I love your Tom Clancy signature quote. :D
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

Celia Hayes
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More 'Orrible Anachronisms

Post by Celia Hayes » Sat June 13th, 2009, 9:12 pm

I actually looked up the styrofoam reference, and lo and behold, it had been invented round and about 1942, but the only thing it was used for immediately and for some time afterwards was in life-rafts for the Coast Guard... so, no, it wouldn't have been in use in Occupied France two years later.

The book with the oxen gaffe, and the running water inside an 1850s kitchen really disappointed me because the writer was (I believe) a professor of history. Honestly, when I want serious 19th century period detail, I have better luck with going to reenactor groups.

Sometime, I shall have to tell the story of how I managed to track down the only collector in San Antonio who had a matched pair of replica 1836 Patterson Colt revolvers, and get a lesson in handling and maintenance of them...
Celia Hayes
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat June 13th, 2009, 10:01 pm

[quote=""Margaret""]
By the way, I love your Tom Clancy signature quote. :D [/quote]

Thanks Margaret. I got that from a writing teacher, who theorized that fiction is our attempt to take the real, continuing story, which is too vast and complicated for one individual to get a grasp of, and present a smaller piece of it with a beginning and an end that satisfies the human desire for meaning.
Besides, my old sig, 'eschew obfuscation', started to annoy me, so I decided it was time to take my own advice.
:p
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Sat June 13th, 2009, 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat June 13th, 2009, 10:09 pm

[quote=""Celia Hayes""]I actually looked up the styrofoam reference, and lo and behold, it had been invented round and about 1942, but the only thing it was used for immediately and for some time afterwards was in life-rafts for the Coast Guard... so, no, it wouldn't have been in use in Occupied France two years later.

The book with the oxen gaffe, and the running water inside an 1850s kitchen really disappointed me because the writer was (I believe) a professor of history. Honestly, when I want serious 19th century period detail, I have better luck with going to reenactor groups.
[/quote]
I think when I was in the 'guard in '75 they still had some of those around-- and the radars we fixed were pretty ancient, too. We had one that was so old that the tech manual was classified super-top-secret -- we had to keep it under lock and key, I kid you not -- left over from the early days of WWII.

As for re-enactor groups, collectively they are a positive mine of useful information. Each person in ours must completely research their character, and it's amazing what they come up with, especially when you add it all together.

Anachronisms with animals leap out and bang me in the face. Too many writers don't bother to do their research there--no concept what it is like to depend on your animals for transportation and sustenance, and how very individual each creature is.

Ash
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Post by Ash » Sat June 13th, 2009, 11:32 pm

[quote=""MLE""]I think when I was in the 'guard in '75 they still had some of those around-- [/quote]

I remember using those in our swimming pool, circa 1965. They were great, till they started to crack open in the hot Az sun, allowing all the beads of styrofoam to clog up the filters. My dad was not amused.

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