Emerald Green

Over the pandemic, I bought quite a few books that sounded so interesting, many of them published between 2014-2022 as well as a number of books published pre-internet.

One particular historical nonfiction book (published in October 2020) enraged me so much due to the breathtaking amount of bad research and misinformation, I couldn’t take it anymore and stormed downstairs, threw it in the kitchen sink and poured yesterdays coffee over it. Once it was sufficiently saturated, I ripped out all the pages and threw the entire mess in the garbage.

Of those 60 plus books, I ended up keeping only the books that were published pre-internet, and put the rest on eBay.

Last night I finished wading through a massive three-ring genealogy binder jammed full of information I had not seen before. Much of it is xerox copies of cursive writing, which meant retraining my brain to read 19th century cursive writing again, much like reading a foreign language.

What’s left is double-checking six years of Itinerary notes from all my research trips and some other notes and then!!! My 3-foot-stack of 19th Civil War Leslie’s Illustrated magazines awaits. I am looking forward to jumping down the 1860s rabbit hole of the American Civil War for a few weeks, it’s all I’ve been looking forward to.

My plan is to publish three historical nonfiction narrative books, all of them based on the contents of my collection.

I am an autodidact, and I tend to avoid the academic world as much as possible. About 12 years ago I started researching the history of human preservation during the 1840s in Paris. It was while doing this research that I discovered the alluring world of arsenic.

Researching and writing about this subject has been my full-time job for about 7 years now. Next week, I am about to jump into the third draft of the first book, the second book is nearly completed and the third book I just need to take the photographs. The rest of this year will be focused on getting through the third draft.

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Above are just a few items from my Arsenic Collection

My Poison collection includes many arsenic-saturated Emerald Green papers and fabrics. This is just off the top of my head.

I was shocked when I realized it came with numerous tipped in arsenic wallpaper swatches! And after all these years, not a single one was missing. I was beyond thrilled! It reminds me of a mini “Shadows From the Walls of Death.”  

Also tins of Paris Green. There is much more, I just can’t remember it all right now.

A few years ago I bought this wonderful vivid 19th c Emerald Green velvet and decided to use it for making doll dresses. I noticed after I had finished sewing one skirt that my hands were dry and itchy, and it felt like I had just come out of a dust storm. That night I felt much better and did not pick up the sewing again until a few days later. Once again, my hands were itchy, my eyes felt like sand-paper and my throat was itchy and dry. I realized it was the fabric and put it away. Later, when I discovered the history of Arsenic being used in fabric, I pulled it out and realized I was sewing with arsenic fabric. Other then that, that was the extent of my arsenic poisoning.

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I also collect 19th c poisons in bottles and tins, Strychnine, Mercury, Cyanide, Laudanum, Carbolic Acid, Chocolate Covered Heroin, and 19teens Radium elixirs, medicines, cures and Radium laced ladies cosmetics. Also an unopened full bottle of Radium embalming fluid.

My biggest collection is 19th-early 20th c embalming mortuary kits. This includes 19th c cooling boards, a 19th c coffin shaped corpse preserver to to keep the body from decomposing, a large selection of 18th c winding sheets, mid-19th c shrouds, late 19th c burial garments, 19th c burial shoes and my very favorite, 19th/early 20th c mortuary cosmetics for the dead. This is where I discovered the magical preservation properties of arsenic.

I have a smaller collection of 19th c surgical instruments, embalming syringes, hypodermic sets, dissection, amputation and embalming kits. The oldest kits I have are two complete, mint 1840s embalming kits from Paris.

One dissection curiosity is a set of 30 gold-plated numbered pins that were used by a wealthy medical student in London to mark the cadaver during dissection. Each pin has a number that corresponds with a number on a gold-plated cannula flag that is removed and the pin left in the cadaver.

And last but not least, I have a small collection of 17th, 18th & 19th c preserved human specimens, shrunken heads, one book bound in tanned human skin, Civil War tattooed tanned skin human trophy, 19th c American human skin cane, a substantial collection of 19c tanned human skin items made in America, fetal skulls, long bones, finger bones, skull caps, numerous human skulls, five human skeletons, a jar full of teeth. I don’t collect dead animals, but I made one exception for the millinery bird heads and wings.

I keep tight records of provenance, prices I paid, where the item came from, as well as the amazing histories about each of these items. Those are the stories I want to tell.

Music: Gut Feeling by Devo 1977

 
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I have a million words I have to go through and cut. On a good day, I can cut 2000 words, and then on another good day, I cut only a paragraph but wrote 1500 words. This is all the research I did over the past 15 years and putting it all... Continue →