1700s

Darning eggs, balls, & mushrooms

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Foot warmers: hot coals, hot water

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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, […]

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Creamware & queensware

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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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.) […]

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Early American candlestands: light at the right height

Threaded candlestand adjustable

When you’re working by candlelight you want as much light on your sewing or reading as possible, but you don’t want to waste candlewax or tallow. It helps if you can raise or lower the light to suit the task, or to allow for the candle getting shorter. Colonial Americans and their descendants left behind […]

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Rocking cradles – wood or wicker

wicker rocking cradle

Cradle designs have changed, but are parents’ concerns any different? 200 years ago people were writing about the well-known dilemma: how much can I let my baby sleep in the day without stopping it from sleeping well at night? It only remains…to say something of the cradle…I believe there is no doubt but the custom […]

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Tea caddies

fruit tea caddy

Tea first arrived in Europe in 1610, when Dutch traders brought some back from Asia to the Netherlands. It reached England in the 1640s and soon became a fashionable drink in London, but it was not something you made at home. If you wanted to drink it in private you had to order a cup […]

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