The Wild West on Five Bits A Day, By Joan Tapper

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The Independent Culture

A snippety guide that pretends to have been written in 1880 may sound eminently avoidable, but Joan Tapper tells you more about the Wild West than many books in the vast library on the topic.

We learn that the cowpoke's favourite coffee was a brand called Arbuckle's, possibly because it contained a free peppermint stick in each packet. Women invested in the "dress elevator" to raise their hems on muddy streets.

Along with gunslingers, Western towns were provisioned with Freemasons, Turkish baths, horseracing and bookshops. The pictures of moustachioed Wyatt Earp, psychopathic Jesse James and manly Calamity Jane suggest that a visit in 1880 would be memorable – if you survived.