Why Hat Making Was Lethal

this episode is sponsored by Wix go to wix.com forward slash go forward slash simple history to create a website today dangerous jobs in history hat maker when you think of a dangerous job in history you might think of the occupation of a soldier or someone who dealt with disease like a plague doctor but you would not think that hat making would be so dangerous in the 1500s the milliner became a term to describe a trader that specialized in importing women’s accessories from Milan as hats began to become a popular status symbol for men around the 14th century by the 17th century mass production of these fashion items became necessary to meet the growing demands of Western society being a milliner became a lucrative business to be a part of and the variety of materials used by hat makers spread experimentation in style and production it was soon discovered that moistening the fibers of felt and fur with mercuric nitrate created a superior material that could also be made quickly this development in hat making was supposedly discovered by a French milliner being treated for syphilis with mercury who used his own urine to separate the animals fur from its skin by the 19th century it was already common practice to use the mercury compound in manufacturing called keratin the process involved washing fur in an orange-colored solution containing mercury or nitrate while the use of the substance made matting and removing the fur from the pelt much easier long-term exposure to the vapors released from the liquid could develop into a serious health condition called Aerith ism because mercury attacks the nervous system symptoms of Erath ism are both psychological and physical in nature mentally it initially manifests as a struggle to control one’s emotions high levels of social anxiety and an inability to think or speak clearly as the body’s motor functions begin to break down severe tremors a stumbling gait and drooling would make many people mistake the sickness for drunkenness in extreme cases the inflicted will be beset by hallucinations delirium and extreme paranoia as the associations between milliner’s and the symptoms of Erath ISM became evident it is believed that the term Mad Hatter and mad as a hatter came to be used to describe this particular type of psychosis Hatter’s shakes became a term to describe the intense muscle spasms and tremors seen in workers of the trade near the end of the 19th century the dangers of mercury poisoning in the profession of millinery began to be studied by the French Academy of Medicine by 1874 alternatives had been developed to replace mercury or nitrate and by the turn of the century laws in England and France were enacted to protect the workers in hat manufacturing unfortunately mercury poisoning but nonetheless continued to plague milliner’s in the first half of the 20th century the United States had developed an alternative method by using hydrochloride but the poisonous mercury compound would be used up until the early part of the Second World War mercury was a key material in detonators for explosives and the needs of the war forced American millinery manufacturers to finally adopt the new processes already developed in 1941 millinery s– in the united states finally agreed to use hydrogen peroxide instead of mercury or nitrate millinery as a craft began to be slowly phased out through the development of new technologies and methods in industry and with the cultural attitudes that emerged from the wars in the 50s and 60s hats no longer were the symbols of status they once were the making of everyday products was a laborious and often dangerous affair before modern industry and hats were no difference Lewis Carroll’s character in Alice in Wonderland the Hatter exhibits many of the traits of Erath ISM but he may have been inspired by a furniture dealer that was colloquially called the Mad Hatter because of his eccentric personality nonetheless this expression was commonly used by Carole’s time and the implications between hat making and psychosis had already made its way into everyday vocabulary whether intentional or not the title preserves the memory of what was once a grim and dangerous job the job of the hat maker don’t be a Mad Hatter use Wix to build your dream website go to wix.com forward slash go forward slash simple history to create a professional site regardless of your skill level Wix has great features to bring your site to life such as Wix videos Wix Pro Gallery Wix bookings and solutions for all kinds of sites such as e-commerce music hotels events restaurants and more build your own website and support the simple History Channel by going to wix.com forward slash go forward slash simple history or simply click the link in the description below to get started
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYV9jJzanKA

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