Frostiana: Or a History of the River Thames in a Frozen State

FrostianaFrostiana: Or a History of the River Thames in a Frozen State was published in 1814 to commemorate the last London frost fair. Frost fairs were great events held on the rare occasions—a handful of times per century—when the River Thames froze over for long enough to justify one. Merchants set up booths on the ice, and people bought their wares, skated, and played games.

Among the booths were printers who created souvenirs of the frost fair, such as cards bearing their patrons’ names. One such printer, George Davis, used the opportunity to create a commemorative book. He printed the title page on the frozen Thames as a publicity stunt, which earned Frostiana its reputation for having been printed on the Thames.

The book contains numerous anecdotes about winter goings-on, including a full description of the 1814 frost fair. It summarizes the scientific understanding of frost of the time, and provides advice on such projects as rescuing drowning people and making ice cream. The final chapter, on skating, provides insight into the state of figure skating in the early nineteenth century.

This edition, the first since 1814, includes the full text of the  original work, illustrations, a new introduction, and explanatory notes.

165+vi pages, illustrated
ISBN 978-1-948100-02-1 (paperback)
Buy now


Frost fairs
Printed on the Thames
This edition

Introduction; containing an account of the late frost
Accounts from the country
Chapter I. Frost
Wonderful expansion of water in the act of freezing
Thames frozen 1715–16
Thames frozen 1739–40
Frost of 1767–68
Thames frozen 1788–89
Thames frozen 1814
Freezing rain, or raining ice
Influence of frost on health
Frozen market at St. Petersburgh
Chronological table of remarkable frosts throughout Europe
Chapter II. Snow
Uses of snow
Artificial snow
Snow slips
Account of a woman buried in the snow for eight days
The hot bath and snow-bath
Thomson’s description of a man lost in the snow
Chapter III. Ice
Ice islands
Blink of the Ice
Union of sugar and ice by the agency of fire
An icy epitaph
How to make ice
How to make ice cream
A palace built of ice
Hamburgh ice-boat
To render assistance to persons in danger of drowning
To recover persons apparently drowned, as recommended by the Humane Society
Construction of an ice-house
Morse-catching on the ice
Chapter IV. Cold
Natural history of cold
Effects of cold on the human frame
Effect of cold on vegetation
Singular effect of cold in Lapland
Extreme cold of Siberia
Curious effect of cold on the feathered tribe
Miscellaneous effects of cold in foreign countries, in former times
Chapter V. Northern winters
A winter in Stockholm
Preparations for winter in Russia
Virgil’s description of a Scythian winter
Curious description of a Russian winter in 1603
Beautiful description of a winter at Copenhagen
The single night of Spitzbergen
Dutch sledges
Lapland sledges
Sledges in Kamschatka
Chapter VI. Skating
Origin of skating
Rules for learners