Plague Doctors Dressed Like Spooky Birds
You may have seen these beaked plague-doctor masks on Halloween, or at cosplay conventions. But why the beak? Back in the 17th century, doctors still believed in the miasma theory of disease, which hypothesized that disease spread through a rotten-smelling scent or vapor. The beaks of the masks were meant to be stuffed with herbs, dried flowers, and other perfumed substances, thereby protecting the doctor from the "infectious" air.
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Key Facts In This Video
In the 19th century, many people wore garments or shoes colored with aniline dyes, which often poisoned their blood. (1:59)
The phrase "mad as a hatter" refers to industrial hat-makers in the mid 1800s, who were poisoned by mercury while producing their hats. (4:44)
During the heyday of celluloid accessories, combs and other items would suddenly catch fire when placed near a heat source. (8:19)