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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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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Delft blue tiles – not always blue, not always from Delft

Delft tiles 1600s

The history of Delft tiles goes back to the early 1600s when blue and white porcelain from China first arrived in the Netherlands. It was much admired and Dutch potters wanted to imitate the look, even though they couldn’t recreate true Chinese porcelain. Potteries in Delft had some success with good quality blue and white […]

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Antique work tables for sewing and crafts

Victorian needlework table

Before the 18th century ladies used to keep their needlework projects in a work-basket or bag. Then furniture designers started to create elegant little tables for the drawing room with a silk work-bag or box-holder hanging beneath. You have only to look at one to understand why Sheraton, the famous cabinet-maker, called his designs pouch […]

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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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Caddy spoons

caddy spoon

If you have a nice tea caddy, you may also want a caddy spoon. In the early years of tea drinking in Europe and America, either the lid of the caddy was used for measuring out tea leaves, or a long-handled strainer spoon, but in the 1760s people started to use special silver spoons instead, […]

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History of wing chairs

wing chair queen anne

Wing chairs are sometimes called fireside chairs, and for good reason. Their design is perfect for enjoying the warmth of a fire while your back and sides are protected from chilly draughts. These chairs were not the earliest furniture to use this approach to keeping warm. Wings were also used on some of the high-backed […]

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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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Toby jugs – comic or commonplace, English or not?

Toby jug

Toby jugs portray a character whose story is rather unclear. He reminds some people of Shakespeare’s jovial, disreputable Toby Belch, and he very likely has something to do with an old song about Toby Fillpot. Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale, (In which I will drink to sweet Nan of […]

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