How do you make Wahoo beer or ginger pop? How do you test gold or silver? How can you remove a ring from a swollen finger? What is the best way to wash a white dog? How can you detect counterfeit money? For Americana buffs, this re-issue of a century-old encyclopedia with over 6400 receipts and processes is a revealing and unique insight into the do-it-yourself methods of yesteryear. Its purpose was to give "thorough information in plain language applicable to almost every possible industrial and domestic requirement" and, leafing through these pages, it's quite obvious that the purpose was carried out. Americans in the 1870s who had to be mostly self-sufficient in their daily existence must have found this volume indispensable. There is information on such miscellaneous subjects as how to test mushrooms, how to test the purity of alcohol, how to deodorize putrid whale oil, and how to make candles. There are instructions for dissolving bones for manure, preserving leather, making soap, perfume and fireworks. You can learn how to make imitation French brandy or imitation Bourbon, how to see under water, how to mount small insects under a microscope, how to remove stains from black crape or mourning dresses, and how to polish alabaster. Perusing these pages will afford hours of pleasure to old and young alike, as either a nostalgic look into another era or as sort of a "Whole Earth" catalog of the 1870s. Leicester and Harriet Handsfield moved from New York City to a pre-Revolutionary War home in northwestern Connecticut in 1972. In the course of doing some refinishing they wanted to know how to milk paint, often used as a coating on furniture. A copy of Dick's Encyclopedia that had belonged to Leicester's grandfather was unearthed and consulted. The Handsfields not only learned all about milk paint, but became so engrossed in the book they spent hours poring over it. They are confident that others will find it good reading.
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