Amazing Portraits of Lady Sword Swallowers From the 1800s

We’ve always been fascinated by the idea of sword swallowers. First of all: how? And second of all: why? Luckily, we don’t really need to know. In these awesome photographs from The Sword Swallowing Hall of Fame Archive, which we spotted over at io9, iron-throated women working in the 1800s show off their ability to swallow swords (sometimes tens at a time), saws, daggers and bayonets — pretty much the sum total of things most people would rather not have in their mouths. Click through to check out some pretty incredible photos, and then go eat something really, really soft.

Image from The Sword Swallowing Hall of Fame Archive.