Hygiene

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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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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Victorian nursery furniture

antique rocking cradle

Parents planning for a new baby in the 19th century felt some of the same pressures as parents today. From one direction came the voices of “experts” offering advice on safety, health, and hygiene. At the same time magazine writers and furniture salesmen talked up the fun of choosing pretty, fashionable furnishings for a baby’s […]

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Bidets past and present

antique bidet 1800

Do you have a bidet in your bathroom? It’s always been a difference between English-speaking countries and France. Bidets have never quite caught on in the USA or the UK, except for an occasional “trend” that never really went very far. Some upper class ladies in 19th century England had French-made bidets, and in the […]

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Showers – 19th century luxury and health

Victorian shower

The earliest showers were rather like having a pail of water tipped over you from a height. By the 1880s there were some more sophisticated contraptions available. They could be fully integrated with indoor plumbing, and came complete with an array of taps and valves to adjust temperature, water flow, and more. Patent mixers were […]

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Boot scrapers

Thumbnail image for Boot scrapers

Who uses boot scrapers in the 21st century? Portable ones are on sale for gardeners, and for anyone else who wants to tackle muddy boots before approaching clean houses, cars, or paths. But the days of iron scrapers being placed at every door are over. The finest ornamental 19th century scrapers are still there beside […]

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Medieval and Renaissance combs

17th century comb

The most beautiful combs owned by ladies in late medieval and Renaissance times were highly ornamented in between their two rows of teeth. They look special, and they are. Some of the best were given as love tokens, and the fine, lacy carving included mottos, hearts, dates or initials. Did the young ladies use their […]

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Household expenses for a “middling” 18th century family

18th century family budget

What could you afford if you were of “middling station” in England in the 1760s and 1770s? You would have plenty of beer, ale, meat, and soap, but no wine, according to a detailed budget in Madam (Mary) Johnson’s book on household management. She suggests the mistress of her middle class home will spend £16 […]

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