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SAKE DEAN MAHOMED (1759 – 1851) First Indian to Publish a Book, Own a Restaurant and Do “Shampooing” in England

In Entrepreneurs, Inventions, People from England on December 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Sometimes a person’s place is his destiny. Dean Mahomed hailed from India, and, although he

Sake Dean Mahomed

Sake Dean Mahomed

left his homeland at age 25, he used that culture, and some clever publicity, to create a life for himself in England.

Mahomed was born in Patna, Bihar, India. When he was only eleven years old, he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the East India Company Army, serving under British Captain Godfrey Baker. After 13 years of active duty, Mahomed followed Baker, who had become his close friend, when he returned to Ireland. Baker treated Mahomed as a son and paid for him to go to school where he primarily studied English language and literature.

Another student, Jane Daly, caught Mahomed’s eye. The same year his patron Baker died, Mahomed and Jane eloped. Mahomed most certainly had converted from Islam to Protestantism, but since Protestant / Catholic marriages were illegal, he posted a bond to insure the church would not be liable in the event their marriage was deemed illegal. Perhaps that helped the community accept their multi-cultural union (Indian and Irish) as well.

READ ALL ABOUT IT         Mahomed first received public recognition in his new homeland by publishing his autobiography titled The Travels of Dean Mahomed, a native in Patna in Bengal, Through Several Parts of India, While in the Service of the Honorable The East India Company. He was the first Indian to publish a book in English. Even though Britain had been in India for decades, Mahomed’s personal account was the first opportunity for Britons to glimpse life there from a native’s point of view.

After achieving some notoriety, Mahomed and his growing family moved to London in search of more lucrative opportunities. Instead of living among the merchants who traded with India, they settled in Portman Square, a hub for high society.  His first job was as an assistant in Sir Basil Cochrane’s vapor bath, similar to a steam bath today. Mahomed enhanced the bath with a practice that elaborated on “champi,” a derivative of the Hindi word champissage for a head massage.1 (Champi become anglicized as “shampooing.”) This treatment involved first lying in an herbal steam bath. When the patient was sweating, he was placed in a flannel tent with sleeves. The practitioner, who was outside the tent, put his arms through the sleeves to give an invigorating massage.

TRYING TO CURRY FAVOR WITH THE LOCALS      When he had enough money to start his own business, Mahomed decided to exploit his Indian background in a different way by opening a restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House, on the west side of London. As the first Indian owner of a curry house, he offered his customers an authentic Indian experience with

Plaque commemorating location of Hindoostane Coffee House

Plaque commemorating location of Hindoostane Coffee House

bamboo furniture, curry, and hookahs with real Chilm tobacco. He hoped the nabobs (Britons who had served in India and then returned to Britain) would miss the cuisine they learned to love and flock to his cafe. Unfortunately, an already established restaurant on the east side of town, and the Indian servants of the local aristocracy who cooked their native dishes for their employers, proved to be too much competition. Mahomed was forced to take on a partner, and then ended up declaring bankruptcy.

By now Mahomed was in his fifties. He moved his family to Brighton, and the only work he could find was as a manager in a bathhouse. He began reinventing himself as the “Inventor of the Indian Medicated Vapour Baths … by whom the Art of Shampooing was first introduced into England in 1784.” 2

RECREATING HIMSELF          Again cashing in on being Indian, Mahomed added the title Sake, a variation of sheik, to his name. In addition, to legitimize himself, he embellished his background to include medical training in India before he joined the army. To make this plausible Mahomed added ten years on to his age.

He started advertising his Indian oils and herbal treatments as a cure-all for various ailments. At first, the public and the medical community dismissed his claims as bogus, but he offered free treatment for patients who were not getting relief from diseases such as asthma, paralysis and rheumatism in other ways. Soon the lobby of his bathhouse displayed crutches and other paraphernalia of those he claimed to cure. He published the descriptions of his treatments and testimonials of his patients who claimed to be cured. From then on business was booming and he was known as Dr. Brighton.

In 1815, Mahomed’s family expanded with three more sons, and he started working in the Battery House Baths. Soon after that, a son and daughter died.

THE BUSINESS OF HEALING      Mahomed wanted his own establishment, so in 1821 he and Jane opened Mohamed’s Baths near the waterfront. Ladies and gentlemen had their facilities on separate floors. Each floor had a reading room with various appropriate journals and a parlor for the clients while they waited for their treatments. Each floor had four bathing rooms had a marble bath with hot and cold water, and two of the bathing rooms were set up for the vapor, shampooing treatment. On the top floor there were five bedrooms for anyone who wanted to stay longer for more intense treatment. Two men and three women lived on the premises as bath attendants and servants.

This luxurious facility attracted an upper class clientele of aristocracy. Even Kings George IV and William IV patronized Mahomed’s Baths and benefited from the treatments. This led to Mahomed’s appointment as Shampooing Surgeon to the King, and he was giving a Royal Warrant so that he could officially promote himself as giving treatment to the royal family.

In addition to his work, Mahomed was very generous donor to local charities and the official Steward for the Annual Charity Ball. He was a colorful part of local society, especially when dressed in the costume modeled on the Mughal court dress, even at the horse races.

In the 1930s, however, competition started taking its toll. Although he was in his late 70s, Mahomed opened another bath back in London with his son. A few years later, his silent partner in Brighton died, and the establishment went up for auction. Mahomed did not have enough money to buy it himself, and the new owner hired Mahomed’s former employees and claimed to give identical treatments to those of the former owner. Mahomed tried to disassociate himself with the new owner through newspaper ads, and he and Jane continued to treat patients in their home.

Gradually Mahomed fell farther out of favor and became all but forgotten. He died at age 92, only two months after Jane passed away. Several of their sons followed in the family business but none ever developed the reputation their father had enjoyed.

QUESTION: How has your background or family heritage influenced your life?

© 2013 Debbie Foulkes All Rights Reserved

Sources:

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champi

2 http://www.movinghere.org.uk/galleries/roots/asian/tracingasianroots/dean_mahomed3.htm#

http://www.movinghere.org.uk/galleries/roots/asian/tracingasianroots/dean_mahomed.htm

http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft4h4nb20n&chunk.id=ch3&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ch3&brand=eschol

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/4290124.stm

http://www.menumagazine.co.uk/book/deanmahomed.html

http://www.black-history.org.uk/doctorbrighton.asp

http://mortiquarian.com/2011/09/09/a-life-too-full-to-fit-sake-dean-mahomet/

http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page_id__11174_path__0p117p158p.aspx

http://mentalfloss.com/article/53008/sheikh-shampoo

Mohamed, Dean, The Travels of Dean Mahomet. http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft4h4nb20n&chunk.id=ch2&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ch2&brand=eschol

 

Photo credits:

http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page_id__11174.aspx

https://www.google.com/search?q=Hindoostane+Coffee+House&client=firefox-a&hs=XcQ&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=Dm6_Up36DtjboASR14GYDQ&ved=0CEEQsAQ&biw=1147&bih=846

 

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JOSEPHINE COCHRANE (1839-1913) Invented the Dishwasher

In American History, Biography, Entrepreneurs, Feminists, Inventions, Millionaires, People, Trivia, Victorian Women, women on April 20, 2010 at 9:03 AM

Josephine Cochrane

Josephine Cochrane believed that if you want something done right you better do it yourself.  But when it came time to doing the dishes, she really didn’t want to, so she invented a machine to wash them for her.

Cochrane’s early childhood is not known.  After her mother died and her sister moved out, she lived with her father, John Garis, in Ohio and Indiana.   He worked as a supervisor in mills and as a hydraulic engineer, perhaps instilling in Cochrane an instinctive knack for the mechanical.  She attended a private high school, but when it burned down, Garis sent his daughter off to live with her sister in Shelbyville, Illinois. 

After high school graduation, Cochrane’s life took a traditional turn.  At age 19 she married 27 year old William Cochran.  In 1857, after a disappointing four years trying to strike it rich in the California Gold Rush, he returned home to Shelbyville and made his mark and fortune in the dry goods business along with other investment opportunities.  No doubt the comfortable life he could offer his bride was one thing she was attracted to. 

In spite of her young age and the societal norm at the time, Cochrane was guided by her independent nature and personal confidence.  She assumed her husband’s name but preferred spelling it with an “e” on the end, a point of contention with his family. 

The Cochrans had a busy social life, and in 1870 when they moved into what could be considered a mansion, they had the perfect house for entertaining.  They threw dinner parties using heirloom china allegedly dating from the 1600s.  After one event, the servants did the washing up and carelessly chipped some of the dishes.  Cochrane discovered this the next morning while she was putting the dishes away.  She was furious and refused to let the servants handled the china any more. 

She may have regretted her decision, but she didn’t give in.  The morning after every subsequent dinner party she begrudgingly endured dishpan hands wondering why someone hadn’t invented a machine that could clean dirty dishes.  This was, after all, the late 19th century, and if someone could invent a machine to sew clothes and cut grass, then how hard could it be? 1 

One such morning while she was up to her elbows in soap suds, she had an epiphany.  Why not invent a dish washing machine herself?  Consumed with the idea, she immediately went into the library to think it through, forgetting she was holding a cup in her hand.  Within half an hour Cochrane had the basic concept for the first mechanical dishwasher.  Just like she had been doing by hand, it held the dishes securely (in a rack) while the pressure of spraying water cleaned them off.

William Cochran was a rising star in the Democratic Party, but too much alcohol led to a violent temper and illness.  While Cochrane was busy with the details of her invention, William went away for a rest. Unfortunately, he didn’t get well, and he died two weeks later in 1883.  

While the Cochrans appeared to be successful socialites to their friends, all was not well at home.  Her husband left Cochrane with a mound of debt and only $1,535.59.  Now, developing the dishwasher was not only for convenience, it was for survival.

Her creation had wire compartments for plates, cups and saucers.  They were put inside a wheel that lay flat inside a copper boiler.  A motor turned the wheel pumping hot soapy water from the bottom of the boiler over the dishes.  Cochrane showed her design to a few men for their input which ended up being a frustrating experience.  “I couldn’t get men to do the things I wanted in my way until they had tried and failed in their own,” she said.  “And that was costly for me. They knew I knew nothing, academically, about mechanics, and they insisted on having their own way with my invention until they convinced themselves my way was the better, no matter how I had arrived at it.” 2   Finally she got help with the construction from mechanic George Butters and received her first patent on the Garis-Cochran Dish-Washing Machine December 28, 1886. 

Cochrane’s first customers were not the housewives she thought she was helping. They didn’t want to spend the money on something they didn’t really need, so she turned to hotels.  After selling a dishwashing machine to the Palmer House hotel in Chicago, she had one recommendation.  Then she did one of the hardest things she’d ever done: she made a cold call to the Sherman House hotel in Chicago, waiting in the ladies’ parlor to speak with the manager.  “You asked me what was the hardest part of getting into business,” she once told a reporter. “…I think, crossing the great lobby of the Sherman House alone. You cannot imagine what it was like in those days … for a woman to cross a hotel lobby alone. I had never been anywhere without my husband or father —the lobby seemed a mile wide. I thought I should faint at every step, but I didn’t—and I got an $800 order as my reward.”2

In 1893 Cochrane convinced restaurants at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to use her invention, and it was an exhibit in Machinery Hall.  That success led to her opening her own factory in an abandoned schoolhouse.  Her customers extended to hospitals and colleges for whom the sanitizing effects of the hot water rinse were important.  Homemakers finally started using it, too.

In 1912, at 73 years old, Cochran was still personally selling her machines.  She died in 1913.  In 1916, her company was bought out by Hobart which became KitchenAid and is now Whirlpool Corporation.  Cochrane is considered the founder.

 QUESTION:  Which modern convenience do you think it would be impossible to live without?

                       ©2010 Debbie Foulkes All Rights Reserved

 Sources:

 1 http://www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/1800a.shtml

 2http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/it/1999/2/1999_2_54.shtml

  http://www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/256.html

EUGEN SANDOW (1867-1925) First Bodybuilder and Perfect Physical Specimen

In Biography, Bodybuilders, Bodybuilding, Entrepreneurs, Exercise, History, Inventions, People, People from Germany, Uncategorized, Vaudeville Acts, Victorian Women on March 15, 2010 at 9:15 PM

Eugen Sandow

Eugen Sandow had a body that men envied and women drooled over, and it brought him fame and fortune.  The only person who didn’t appreciate his success was his wife. 

Sandow was born Friedrich Muller, the son of a green grocer in a German city in East Prussia.  He was a draft dodger and changed his name to Eugen Sandow to avoid conscription.  His family didn’t appreciate that.  When his parents said, “What are you going to do, join the circus?” Sandow said yes, and ran away with one that was passing through town.  

He toured and performed as an acrobat until the circus went bankrupt in Brussels.  In this city he met Louis Attila who helped Sandow develop his physical structure and showmanship.  Together they made ends meet showing off their strength in music halls.  In 1889 Attila moved to London and sent word to Sandow of an irresistible challenge.  

The popular duo Sampson and Cyclops were posing as strongmen on stage with a cleverly choreographed act that concealed their lack of strength.  Each night Sampson issued a challenge to the audience: he would pay 500 pounds to anyone who could match the stunts he performed on stage.  Sandow was intrigued, so he went to London and briefly resumed training under Attila.  One night he answered Sampson’s call to prove his physical prowess and handily won the prize. 

This turned Sandow into a sensation, and he spent the next four years touring the music halls of Britain, wowing audiences with his feats of strength.   In 1893 he followed fame and fortune to New York where his act was under appreciated, perhaps because he had to share the stage with some third rate burlesque talent.  

This was not the American dream he was promised until one patron noticed how the women in the audience responded to Sandow’s flexing and posing.  Florenz Ziegfeld took him under his wing and coached Sandow to play to the audiences’ fascination with his bulging muscles.  He downplayed the heavy lifting for these “muscle display performances” and added some sensationalism such as breaking a chain around his neck.  Ziegfeld used the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to debut Sandow’s new routine.  The audiences went wild, and for the next three years, Ziegfeld and Sandow toured extensively.  They continually added new ways to demonstrate Sandow’s physical prowess such as fighting a lion, or tearing apart furniture. In addition, Sandow made a short film with Thomas Edison featuring his poses.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wLJtjEv-Ik)  

Sandow got the inspiration for his manly physique from Greek and Roman statues.  He measured the sculptures and crafted his body to their exact proportions, thereby creating “The Grecian Ideal” as the representation of the perfect male body.  After a thorough examination, doctor and Harvard professor Dudley Sargent pronounced Sandow “the most perfectly developed man in the world.”  His stage performances exploited this image by featuring him standing on a rotating pedestal encased in glass.  With physical perfection came lots of female attention, and Sandow became a sex symbol, something he didn’t seem to mind at all.  

The intense schedule and demands of celebrity caused Sandow to have a nervous breakdown.  At some point on a trip to England, Sandow had married Blanche Brookes.  When he became ill, he retreated back to England and the care of his wife. 

Away from the limelight, Sandow became passionate about helping people maintain personal fitness.  He created a place for people to learn about and practice bodybuilding and exercise called Institutes of Physical Culture.  The popularity of these gyms inspired other teachers to do the same, and a fitness craze started gaining momentum.  In order to reach the masses, Sandow published a magazine and five books.  The book that gave the sport its name, Body Building or Man in the Making, was published in 1904.  In Body Building, Sandow states his intention.  “What I live to teach is the gospel of health, and the bringing of the body to the condition to which Nature intended it.”  He outlined his system for achieving maximum physical potential as well as exercises for both men and women that dealt with specific ailments such as constipation, digestion and liver problems. (http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/sandowindex.htm#lied

Sandow capitalized on his success by developing equipment to enhance the efficacy of the exercises.  His spring-loaded dumbbell and weighted resistance band were available through mail order, which made it possible for the general population to get in shape in the comfort of home. In Body Building, he insisted, however, that rote repetition of the exercises was not enough. He emphasized the connection between the body and the mind. “The secret of success does not lie in the construction of the apparatus, but in the proper application and use if it, and this can only be obtained through the brain.  In other words, it is not a question as to how much you exercise, but how you exercise.” 

Sandow’s entrepreneurial spirit extended beyond the gym.  He produced Sandow Cigars and Sandow Health and Strength Cocoa.  In addition, he was one of the first proponents of mandatory physical education in school.  He believed that employers should give their employees time off for daily exercise, and he developed exercises for pregnant women to ease the pain of childbirth. 

Perhaps his biggest contribution to the sport of bodybuilding came in 1901.  Sandow organized the first bodybuilding contest, called the “Great Competition,” held in Royal Albert Hall in London to a standing room only crowd.  One of the judges was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories. 

Being a perfect physical specimen and sex symbol had its price. Despite his physical strength, Sandow’s emotional weakness for women did him in.  When he died, the public story was that he had a stroke, but many believed he had succumbed to syphilis.  In retaliation for his philandering, his wife insisted that he be buried in an unmarked grave. 

Sandow hasn’t faded into total obscurity, however.  He has been immortalized by a bronze statue sculpted in his image which is the prize for winning the Mr. Olympia contest. It is called The Sandow. 

QUESTION: What physical feature do other people appreciate most about you? 

                              © 2010 Debbie Foulkes All Rights Reserved 

Sources: 

http://www.eugensandow.com/story1.html 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_Sandow 

http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Eugen-Sandow 

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_bio/ai_2419201071/ 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wLJtjEv-Ik 

http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/sandowindex.htm#lied