Who… cried on demand?
…could not afford to stumble?
…could hold their breath the longest?
This intriguing, large-format book highlights 89 long-gone jobs, some that we’ve heard of – executioner, court jester, explorer – and others that sound entirely strange to our ears – whalebone ripper, candle trimmer, ice harvesters.
From gladiators and royal tasters to switchboard operators and computing rocket women, professions have arisen to fill a need and then fade away if a better (or faster or cheaper) way is found. Wet nurses gave way to baby formula powder, and airplane detectors’ sensitive ears were replaced by the invention of radar.
You’ll be thankful for modern indoor plumbing when you learn about the jobs of fullones (collected urine to wash clothes in), nightmen (who shoveled out pit toilets), and Abtrittanbieter (walking toilets with a bucket and big cloak)!
Discover the origin of “whipping boy” and “mad as a hatter,” as well as how the Bow Street Runners led to modern police work.
The book’s illustrator even shows himself moving from traditional to digital art methods. Think about which of today’s professions are threatened with extinction as you plot your future career path!
A fascinating import from Switzerland, translated from German to English.
What’s the most unusual past profession you’ve ever heard of?
Book info: Astonishing and Extinct Professions: 89 Jobs You Will Never Do / Markus Rottmann; illustrated by Michael Meister; translated by Ashley Curtis & Sonia Curtis. Helvetiq, 2023. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.