Snippets from the home page - February and March 2012

More snippets: April 2012
What is it?

board with carved decoration and horse-shaped handle
Click on the picture to find out how the little wooden horse and board were used.

bannock spade
Click on the picture to find out what this was used for.

Did you know?

oval kettle s-shaped spout
Oval copper kettles came into fashion a generation before this English kettle was made around 1850, and they cost more than round ones. In the 1820s, buying a round kettle, not oval, would save you enough money for a "gridiron or frying-pan" (2 or 3 shillings) according to domestic advice from Esther Copley.

wooden round and long dough troughs
This "small" dough trough and dough bowl (probably 18th century), are both a yard across. In late medieval Europe the average person ate from 1 to 2 pounds of bread a day, according to various academics. In the mid-19th century Eliza Acton said a family of ten needed 3 pecks (27 litres or 7 US gallons) of flour to make bread for one week. Not every family had an oven; some used communal bakehouses.

young girl butter churn
Making butter in 1930s North Carolina, the same way as 1000+ years ago.

mottled enamel tableware
I love enamel pots and pans but researching the new enamelware article was a big untangling job. So many conflicting sources, so many facts to check, so many patent searches.

vintage type electric irons
Two women with electric irons running off ceiling light fittings: in 1930s Pennsylvania and 21st century India.

Insights into home life through art

17th C Dutch cradle, box bed, woman, girlScenes of domestic life by Dutch "Golden Age" painters don't just please the eye. They tell us about old ways of furnishing and running a home, too. Pieter de Hooch's portrait of a woman who's just fed her baby shows a fine, high box bed, a warming pan for winter, with clothing, candlestick and a "Dutch" door too. This painting is on Wikimedia's "cradles in art" page, a good place to contemplate rocking cradles. The 92 pictures there are a random collection, but interesting and varied. Here's one that is worlds away from the 17th century Netherlands. (This page is their central hub for exploring all kinds of "things in art".)

Learning from links to laundry blue

1881 ad for Reckitts designIt was welcome but unexpected to find a link to this site from TripAdvisor. Not many travel sites link here, but this one led to the laundry blue page. A traveller was explaining that Dolly Blue is seen everywhere in the Gambia - along with Omo washing powder. The bluing page also attracts owners of white pets (think about it) and collectors of vintage advertising who want to know more about their ads. This 1881 ad from New York was seeking original ideas for advertising Reckitt's Blue -with a $50 prize on offer.

Click for a complete list of all articles arranged by topic.

clotheslines and white washingThank you to everyone who's ever emailed with interesting info, queries, and pictures. It's been a pleasure to discover what a wide range of interests readers of Old & Interesting have. Our visitors include living history reenactors, antiques collectors, and people involved in traditional crafts. Some are researching for books, TV programmes, or academic projects. The clothesline picture (left) echoes the interests of readers pursuing sustainable, thrifty lifestyles. Some visitors have long memories, or are thinking about how grandparents lived their lives. Of course there are many more readers who come without us knowing what's brought them here. Reaching a variety of people across the world helps make publishing online very satisfying. Thanks to every one of you for sharing our interests.

wash-tubs and boards Welcome, and we hope you will like the changes to the home page. Old & Interesting has more visitors than it used to, and we think you may appreciate new ways to explore the site, with more ways to find what interests you, or what's popular.

At the same time, we're starting a companion site, Home Things Past, with articles on a range of domestic antiques and space for comments.

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.