How To Trick People Into Thinking You're From the 19th Century

There are numerous reasons why you might want to trick someone into thinking you’re from the 19th century. For example, maybe you bet someone that you could build a working time machine within a 30 day timeframe. Well, bringing back your 19th-century ancestor that looks just like you is a great way to “prove” your success and collect that free back rub from the loser.

Oh, he's good. He's really good.
Oh, he's good. He's really good.

Or maybe, despite your best efforts, you’ve been unable to catch the eye of that attractive young historian you’ve had your eye on. You know, the one that sits on that one bench in the park and eats peaches while reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court? Well, she sure would want to get to know a guy who once “ran into Mark Twain at a penny candy store in Wabash, Indiana,” wouldn’t she?

Whatever the reason, you’ve got your work cut out for you if you want to come off as a convincing man or woman of yesteryear.  Here are some tips to help keep your ruse going:

Have a Convincing Name

Sorry guys, but people from the 19th century just didn’t have the diverse list of popular names that are available today (Aiden, Jayden, Braydan, etc.). Back then, you were either named John, Jack, Betsey or Beatrice. Choose one. Then, take you’re real last name and add a “-ton” or “-erly” to the end. For example, David Bilker could be John Bilkerton. Or Ana Kryzinowsky might be Betsey Kryzinowsky-erly (See? Works like a charm).

Stumble Around With Mouth Agape

Let’s face it: those 19th-century Neanderthals would be pretty freaked out if they suddenly showed up in our modern world of computers, skyscrapers and non-segregated bathrooms. As such, when you first start your ploy, you should stumble around and stare with disbelief at all the foreign technology. Keep your mouth agape for maximum trickery. And if you really want to fool passersby, repeatedly utter phrases like “zounds,” “egads,” and “Satan! The work of Satan!”

Wear a Monocle

A monocle is important for two reasons. One, it was a popular fashion accessory in the 19th century. Two, it makes people think you’re rich. And people are much less likely to question a time-traveling rich man than a time-traveling pauper. Of course, if you’re a man, then you’ll also want to wear a tweed suit, have a mustache and smoke a pipe. Alternatively, the ladies will need to find the most unflattering long-sleeved woolen dress as humanly possible.

Frown a Lot

People in the 19th century were sad all the time. Failed crops, syphilis, eight kids, a complete lack of air conditioning – it’s pretty safe to say that people from the past weren’t used to smiling. So don’t give yourself away by coming off as jovial – especially when the newspapers come around to document your story. Trust me, they’re gonna want to take pictures of the “man time forgot” – and if you’re smiling in any of those photos, someone’s going to get suspicious.

Always Keep a Change of Modern Clothes Nearby

People who know you are going to be skeptical of how much this time traveler looks exactly like you. Whenever they begin to question whether or not you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes, excuse yourself and go to the non-segregated bathroom. Then change quickly, go out the window and reenter through the front door as your modern self. For tips on how to juggle this feat, consider watching Mrs. Doubtfire.


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