Saturday, October 24, 2015

This Book Could KILL YOU!!!

OK, so that might have been a bit dramatic, but, there is some truth to that statement.

We've all heard it. Someone complaining that video games can kill because they make our children violent. Or how movies like Natural Born Killers inspire a murderous desire in viewers. But what about books?  Has a book ever inspired anyone to kill? Or even worse, much like the ominous VHS in the movie, The Ring, can a book actually kill a person? Well, the answer is, yes.  But it's complicated, let me explain...

Arsenic makes a lovely shade of green.

A fashionably green room is simply to die for!
The beginning of the 19th century brought with it a new mindset about "home". For the first time a persons home was considered to be a sanctuary, a place to hide away from the world and relax. And for the first time, people started to fill their homes with objects and things to create an atmosphere of wealth and fortune in the home. The Victorians were so enamored with the idea of the home being a show piece for their status in the world, they were known to decorate their homes as lavishly as possible. They were very mindful of what was considered to be in fashion and made certain that their homes were filled with the latest styles. During this time green was the highest of fashion and the truest most vibrant greens were those made by mixing arsenic and copper. This combination appeared in everything from wallpaper, fabrics, toys and more. Books were also used to display these wallpaper sample, and what looks nicer than a book cover wrapped in pretty green wallpaper!?

Not many of these poisonous books still exist but there are a few. The book most notorious for being poisonous is this one. The book, wrapped in ornate wallpaper may not look like much, but a closer look reveals that this book is wrapped in wallpaper removed from Napoleon Buonaparte's bedroom. The very bedroom he died in while in the custody of British soldiers. That wallpaper is likely the cause of Bounaparte's death. There are many theories surrounding his death but this one book might just be the best evidence yet. Only time will tell if this discovery will lead to some real answers.

So when you are buying rare books, always be cautious of books from the Victorian area. Especially books bound in wallpaper. It might be the last book you ever buy!

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