Snippets from the home page - April 2012

More snippets: February and March 2012
What is it?

rushlight holders
Click on the picture to find out what these were used for.

Did you know?

mottled agate ware
Civil War re-enactors in the US discourage people from bringing speckled enamel cookware to events. Although it's thought of as "traditional" American graniteware, it arrived a bit too late to be authentic in the context. Mottled enamelware in the USA only goes back to about the mid-1870s, with the first patent in 1876.

Home life in art

basketwork baby walker, 1800sThe child is centre of attention for its doting grandparents, for the artist, Sandrucci, and for us. She's in an interesting wickerwork baby walker. That kind of "walker" (Italian or French) never looks like a very good way of helping an infant learn to walk - but I've never seen one in action. Did it have more to do with teaching it to stand upright? With keeping an active baby contained and safe? Anyway, it's an appealing 19th century Italian kitchen scene: terracotta floor, wine flask, big fireplace, and many more nice details that catch the eye. Was the stray vegetable leaf left on the floor for artistic reasons?

Growing clothesline posts

Branches, twigs, clotheslineHave any green readers got a living, growing clothesline? This picture only just begins to illustrate Esther Copley's 1840 advice for drying laundry outside: "The next some posts for your wife to dry her linen....I will tell you of something very cheap....If you get some fresh cut, straight willow poles, about as thick as your arm, cut off all the twigs, except about half a dozen just round the top, which may be left five or six inches in length, dig a hole at the corners of your garden, and set in the posts; put them as much as a foot in the ground, set them fast with large stones, and fill up the mould round them; and there you have good, strong, living, growing posts, that will serve you for many years — this I know by experience. The twigs at top will serve to fix the line by."

tinder box
Tinderboxes were essential for centuries, but disappeared in a generation once matches were invented. Young people in the mid-19th century couldn't strike a light the way their elders once had.
earth closet pail, chamberpot
What was the "most disagreeable item in domestic labor" according to Catharine Beecher? And which invention of the Rev. Henry Moule's helped relieve the problem?

You may like our new sister site Home Things Past where you'll find articles about antiques, vintage kitchen stuff, crafts, and other things to do with home life in the past. There's space for comments and discussion too. Please do take a look and add your thoughts.  (Comments don't appear instantly.)

For sources please refer to the books page, and/or the excerpts quoted on the pages of this website, and note that many links lead to museum sites. Feel free to ask if you're looking for a specific reference - feedback is always welcome anyway. Unfortunately, it's not possible to help you with queries about prices or valuation.