Trivia

Hard

In The Early 19th Century, England Was Gripped By A Craze For?

Kaleidoscopes
Swearing Parrots
Gnome Statues
French Bread
An 1819 illustration of a poly-angular kaleidoscope with adjustable reflector angles.
David Brewster/Wikimedia

Answer: Kaleidoscopes

By modern standards, kaleidoscopes aren’t exactly the most enrapturing devices around, but if you were to hop back into the early 19th century, then you’d find that people were more fascinated by them than any modern technology today.

How fascinated were they? People in England were outright obsessed with the invention, the creation of Sir David Brewster. The wealthy owned their own kaleidoscopes that they delighted their guests with. Street vendors had kaleidoscopes they would rent out for a penny a view. Rich or poor, people were fascinated by the infinite variety of images that kaleidoscopes could offer. In fact, kaleidoscopes had such an impact on viewers that by the mid-19th century, you could find wallpaper patterns, stained glass designs, and more all inspired by the colorful geometric patterns found through the lens of a kaleidoscope.

Eventually, like all new and novel technological innovations, the hype surrounding the device died down and the age of incredibly sophisticated kaleidoscopes with tight tolerances and brass machining gave way to the cheaper toy kaleidoscopes of today.

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