18. Mercury as a medicine
The sexually transmitted disease syphilis is a horrific condition that if left untreated can lead to gross disfigurement, madness and ultimately death. Mercury was used as early as the 16th century as a treatment for the condition, and the liquid metal’s use continued well into the 20th century. Thankfully, in the 1940s it was discovered that penicillin is a far more effective treatment for the disease, and mercury was dropped.
17. Pop your progeny in the post
A long journey with small offspring can try the patience of the most tolerant parent; and sitting in one spot for hours can turn the most angelic child into a pint-sized demon. But there was once a solution: stick your kid in the mail. And, incredibly, it really did happen in the early days of the U.S. Postal Service’s Parcel Post, at the beginning of the 20th century. The practice was furthermore encouraged by the fact that postal rates were less expensive than train tickets.
16. Messing with molten metal
It is great to see kids learning a new skill – but any responsible parent would surely draw the line at this hot-ticket item from the 1920s. The play set involved a child heating lead pellets to melting point and then pouring the molten results into molds. Now the melting point of lead is recorded at 621 °F; however, what is not recorded is how many children ended up in the emergency room following a session with the Kaster Kit Jr.