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Today's featured article

A contemporary French print on the English custom of wife selling

Wife selling was a traditional English practice for ending an unsatisfactory marriage. Instead of dealing with an expensive and dragged-out divorce, a husband would take his wife to market and parade her with a halter around her neck, arm, or waist, before publicly auctioning her to the highest bidder. Any children from the marriage might also be sold along with their mother. Prices paid for wives varied considerably, from a high of £100 (plus £25 each for her two children), to a low of a glass of ale, or even free. The Duke of Chandos bought his second wife at one such sale in Newbury in about 1744. Along with other English customs, wife selling was exported to England's American colonies, where one man sold his wife for "two dollars and half [a] dozen bowls of grogg". Husbands were sometimes sold by their wives in a similar manner, but much less frequently. Wife selling persisted in some form into the early 20th century, as general attitudes began to shift. (more...)

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1895 weight gain ad

An advertisement exhorting readers to "GET FAT", in which the woman depicted makes a conspiratorial wink as she shares the secret to her beauty.

Advertisement: The Gribler Bank Note Co. from photo by Bakers Art Gallery
Restoration: Lise Broer

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