1900s

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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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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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 […]

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A kitchen in 1930 – what do you recognise?

Kitchen 1930 Germany

Enamel cookware, dishes and candlestick, a black stove with a flat iron and skillet on top, a nice old wooden high chair – nothing too surprising for a 1930-ish kitchen. But if you live in an English-speaking country, there may be things in this German kitchen that seem slightly, or very, unfamiliar. Do you recognise […]

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Soap, sand, soda – a clean trio

sand soda seife soap

German kitchens used to have a decorative shelf with a set of pots, neat and tidy, filled with three essentials for a clean home: soap, sand, and soda. Although English-speaking countries never had a special storage unit like this, and didn’t think of the “three esses” as a trio, they also made much use of […]

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Is it safe to use a vintage briki, ibrik, or cezve?

ibrik, briki, cezve

Drinking strong coffee made in a small pot called a briki, ibrik, cezve or rakwa, has become quite popular in English-speaking countries in the last few years. If you have an old briki – from an antique shop, relative’s attic, or an old souvenir – you may wonder if you can put it on the […]

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Can you ID stovetop utensils in a 1920s kitchen?

kitchen stuff 1920s

This kitchen is on an early dude ranch set up for city dwellers who wanted an “American West” experience on vacation. Perhaps it’s a little more folksy than some other kitchens of the 1920s, but everything in there is authentic, and could have been found in other homes of that era. Before I start naming […]

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Bedroom bath & basin 1800s style

Victorian wash stand

Having no bathroom was no problem for people with servants. Using your bedroom for bathing was normal in the 1800s. Even if you were rich enough to install indoor plumbing, and enjoyed a bath or shower in a brand new bathroom, you wouldn’t necessarily want to give up the convenience of a commode near your […]

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Antique laundry tool for today

antique breathing washer aka posser

When a reader told me she’d seen a “Manual Washing Machine” on sale looking just like a traditional posser, but with the advantages of plastic, I was intrigued and read every word of the customer reviews, wanting to know who liked it. I already knew that many visitors to our sister site at Old and […]

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Asbestos Sad Irons – cool ironing days

Asbestos Sad Iron

The Asbestos Sad Iron design really did use asbestos. It was under the handle, inside a “hood” or cover that fitted over a heated “core”. It “bottled up” the heat, said an ad, so it was all channeled through the hot solid steel surface that pressed the clothes smooth. No heat rose upward to bother […]

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