How to stop a runaway horse & other vintage life hacks from days of yore


We thought we’d ease you back to the work week with a fun post on vintage life hacks. The Internet loves “life hacks” – tips, tricks and shortcuts to solve everyday problems or help you increase efficiency. We’ve carried some previously here on this blog – see Handy household hacks: creative uses for everyday products and Everyday products you’ve probably been using wrong.

Back in the olden days (yes, there was life before the Internet, kids), “life hacks” were often called “household hints” and were often featured in newspaper and magazine columns. But before that, in the Victorian era, there were “trade cards.” Trade cards were typically two-sided cards with art on one side and information on the other side. The content could be fun, humorous, useful or handy. They were an important part of pop culture of the day. The goal was to carry an advertiser’s brand and get people to collect the entire series. Cigarette manufacturers eagerly seized on trade cards as a way to spark repeat purchases.

Here’s a link to a gallery of vintage household hints from Gallaher’s Cigarettes of Belfast & London on such useful topics as how to make a fire extinguisher, how to extract a splinter, how to clean real lace and how to stop a runaway horse. We’ve excerpted a few below.

Other advertiser’s also produced “how-to” trade cards of household hints. Check the site’s sidebar to explore more topics.

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How to blow a brick over

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How to treat squeaky boots

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