Added: Lacretia Marshall - Date: 08.10.2021 01:08 - Views: 41038 - Clicks: 4214
And will the match trade die?
Then thirty thousand working girls Will know the reason why. Like I said, versatile. Yet, like so many wonders of the world that we rely upon, the history of the simple matchstick is a sad and tragic narrative for those who toiled to create them.
Like many professions, the factory conditions in which these everyday items were produced stand as testament to human misery and suffering. The primary manufacturer of the then known Lucifer match was Bryant and May, and the popularity of these tiny flammable sticks made the owners extremely rich — and the workers extremely ill. The prevailing attitude is described in this from activist Annie Besant:. But it was the key chemical that caused the glorious little flame, that beacon in the dark — white phosphorous, that was the most prevalent toxic injury inflicted upon the laborers.
White phosphorousfirst discovered as a component of human urine, was about as poisonous a chemical as could be found in a 19th century workplace. It was also an insecticide and a rodent killer, and later used in ammunition. Conditions at the Bryant and May factory, known to some as the Lucifer factorywere so deplorable that white phosphorous poisoning was rife throughout the entire production chain.
Charles Dickens, commentator on many social circumstances of the time, describes the chemical in his journal Household Words:. At night, she could see that her clothes were glowing on the chair where she had put them; her hands and arms were glowing also. It was a ruthlessly fatal and degenerative bone ailment that gradually ate away at the lower cranial structure and ultimately poisoned the victim. There are theories abound as to why phosphorous poisoning first afflicted the jaw, but it appears most likely that it was due to consumption with food.
Barely having time eat, let alone scrub the deadly substance from their skin, workers would consume the toxin along with their meals and the poison would be absorbed through the small holes and cavities of the gum region.
Symptoms were horrific — first toothache, then swelling, followed by abscesses that resulted in the teeth rotting out of the jaw bone, the structure gradually melting away, causing small pieces of bone to be ejected through the resulting gaps. The skin would start to fall apart, and putrid pus would eject from the spreading apertures, causing a stench so obnoxious that those nearby would be instantly repelled. Due to the fluorescent effects of the chemical, it was reported that the collapsing bone and skin would glow — it was said that on some nights, it was possible to see pools of vomit around the entrance to the factory glowing faintly in the dark.
Treatment was harsh — full removal of the lower jaw and a lifetime of soft foods, or else you could expect horrendous brain damage, excruciating pain, swift organ failure and obviously, death. As per enlightened company policy, discovery Match making in victorian times the symptoms led to mandatory tooth pulling — refusal resulted in dismissal.
From the Journal Freedom in One pregnant women refused, fearing miscarriage from the shock. She was instantly turned adrift. Disfigurement was standard, social exclusion common, with the foul-smelling odor and gradually failing mental faculties resulted in exile of the victim from urban areas to peripheral shanty towns, not unlike leper colonies of old.
The feminist and social reformer Annie Besant campaigned tirelessly with the laborers, petitioning for not only improved working conditions, rest breaks, and better pay but also for the use of red phosphorous in match-making, a more expensive but non-poisonous variant of the deadly manufacturing chemical. This article was first published on March 15th, on The Pandora Society. Sources available upon request. Like Like. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google. You are commenting using your Twitter .
You are commenting using your Facebook. Notify me of new comments via. Notify me of new posts via. The other side, not so much. Get back to work, you lazy blighter.
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Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking