“Seeking the Bubble Reputation”

Today Forgotten Stories makes but the briefest of stops at a fashionable party in 1879.  On the menu for entertainment, soap bubbles. According to a reporter at Frank Leslie’s, “the rosebuds of the bouquet of Society have, under the nod, beck and wreathed smile of Fashion, turn soap bubbles to account, and have placed them amongst the glittering nothings that constitute the amusement of the blasé upper ten.” Translation: All the cool rich kids were having soap bubble parties.  

The concept was simple. Take a large bowl filled with soapy water. Hand out eighteen clay pipes, similar to those used to smoke opium, and see who could blow the biggest bubble. If your bubble burst the contestant got to try again, until all three tries were used up. The largest bubble won a prize. Apparently the ladies were at a disadvantage, for men were used to smoking pipes. As our reporter described it “[s]ome of the young ladies looked uncommonly piquant as they adjust the pipes in their saucy lips, while others, in the exertion of blowing, caused their features to assume proportions comical to the last degree.”

Ed. Note: A brief comment on the picture above. First, the gentleman’s mustache on the left is particularly neat. Secondly, look at the young lady on the right, holding the fan. I’ve heard of wasp waisted women, and the effects of corsets, but her waist must be all of 22 inches.

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  1. In the “Little House” books, Laura Ingalls recalls her mother telling an aunt that Charles could span her waist with his hands when they got married. He was a tall man and may have had large hands, but that sounds horrifying to me. I imagine many women had displaced organs from trying to be fashionable and those Victorian swoons may have been real more often than not. Oh and I always loved blowing bubbles 🙂 as a kid, so why not 🙂


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