Darning eggs, balls, & mushrooms

Thumbnail image for Darning eggs, balls, & mushrooms

A hundred years ago could anyone imagine that darning tools would now be unrecognisable except to antiques or crafts enthusiasts? There always used to be a steady supply of darning in the family mending bag. A woman sitting darning was a common sight, and so was a darning egg. Inside a stocking or sock with […]

Read more

Butter tubs can be beautiful

Thumbnail image for Butter tubs can be beautiful

Wooden tubs with fine carving inside the lid were traditional containers for a few pounds of butter in parts of Norway and other Scandinavian countries. Some were beautifully finished on the outside too, and could be used to take butter to festive gatherings and serve it attractively. Because the interior carving gave the top of […]

Read more

Games tables

Thumbnail image for Games tables

This table is a fine example of the 18th century fashion for specialised furniture designed to suit particular interests and hobbies. It’s beautifully crafted by a skilled cabinet-maker for a client with plenty of money. Look at the inlay work in the games boards, the edgings, the pairs of dice – and all over. Set […]

Read more

Card tables and a social life

antique card table

Many finely-crafted card tables were made in the 1700s and 1800s. The social lives of prosperous families in America, Britain, and other parts of Europe depended on having a card table, or two, for friends to play at in the evening. Before 1700, card-playing was popular with very rich people, and less so with people […]

Read more

Foot warmers: hot coals, hot water

Thumbnail image for Foot warmers: hot coals, hot water

Ceramic hot water bottles were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As well as filling hot water containers to warm your bed, you could buy earthenware bottles to use as foot warmers or hand warmers too. Earlier foot warmers used to hold hot coals, or glowing wood, not warm water. In the same way, […]

Read more

Creamware & queensware

Thumbnail image for Creamware & queensware

Chinese porcelain seemed fine, white and desirable to 18th century Europe, and it inspired skilled potters there to develop their own versions of porcelain. Others worked on more affordable earthenware, trying various clay and flint blends in the search for pale, creamy colours. This new creamware was developed during the mid-1700s. One of the most […]

Read more

Tiled stoves, winter warmth

glazed tile stove

Tiled stoves were a wonderful way of heating homes in Northern Europe. I’ve often wondered why the British never used them. The settlers in North America hardly used them either, even in regions with bitter cold winters. At first they seem to have followed the British idea of having a fire to warm yourself by, […]

Read more

18th century American kitchen

early American kitchen

This model of an 18th century kitchen in New England should appeal to people who like historic kitchens, and to people who like doll’s houses. There are lots of “authentic” things in it, and care was taken with historical details. The room is interesting and charming even though it may not be 100% realistic, but […]

Read more

Box beds, bunk beds – upstairs, downstairs

Lit clos double Brittany

I’ve written about box beds before, and about the Breton tradition of fine, substantial, and wonderfully carved box beds (lits clos or enclosed beds).  At the time I didn’t know about another, more recent, tradition from about 100 years ago: pictures of comic scenes staged around Britanny’s most famous furniture. The double-decker beds (double lit […]

Read more

Using a dough box or kneading trough

dough box kneading bin

If you’ve ever made bread, how much flour did your recipe call for? One pound? One kilo? Just enough for one or two tasty loaves? You need to get into a different mindset to understand a dough box. (Also called dough bin, dough trough, kneading trough or tray, with or without a lid and/or legs.) […]

Read more