Geek Trivia

In The Early 20th Century, What Strangely Modern Sounding Fad Swept Rural Britain?

Some People Avoid Which Of These Herbs Because They Report It Tastes Like Soap?
A photograph of the first example of "face-book" found in print in 1902
British Newspaper Archive

Answer: Face-booking

Today, if you told somebody you were busy “facebooking”, they’d think you were using the name of the social media platform akin to saying you were “googling” something. At the turn of the 20th century, however, they’d understand you to be doing a totally different activity and not just because it would be over a century until Facebook, as we understand it now, existed.

Back then, there was a fad that swept through Britain that sounds entirely 21st century: Face-booking. The Western Times, in their April 30, 1902 edition described the fad as:

“The latest novelty for wiling the time in a country house is known as a “Face-book.” Everyone who comes to stay has to draw a face in the album, however badly, and sign his name underneath. The result is very amusing, and the worst drawings frequently cause the greatest entertainment.”

So we have a “face-book”, filled with albums of poorly rendered pictures, that brought great amusement to the viewer. Sounds like somebody was ahead of their time.