Friday, December 26, 2014

Out of the Fire

We hope you enjoyed this weeks mystery artifact. If you'd like a chance to see it in person, come visit the museum before we close for the winter on January 1st! 

Any last guesses on what it could be?

If you googled the patent information you might have had a good hint. This object is a meat broiler.  The side hinges so it can be opened, and have meat placed in side. The cook would then lower the basket part of the object over the heat, and hang it on a bar or hook to let it broil over the fire.  The iron strips would have provided the signature grill marks we like to see on our steaks today. 

This style of grate cooking with parallel grid bars started in the 1830s and slowly grew in popularity form there. Lewis Holmes improved on the original idea in 1868 by creating this basket like style that could be held over the fire at whatever angle might be best in the situation. 

Come visit us before the museum closes on January 1st and get a last look at our Home Grown exhibit! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Into the Deep

Hello Readers! Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season.  We’ve been incredibly busy around the museum getting ready for all the exciting things we will be bringing you next year. Don’t forget that the next couple of weeks are the last to come visit the museum before we close on January 1st. So come take this last chance to see the Home Grown Exhibit!

We will reopen again March 1st of 2015, and soon after that we’ll have the grand opening of The Grand Prairie Story, our brand new main exhibit, on March 15th and then Hidden Underfoot: Historical Archaeology in Illinois will open on April 19th. We hope you’ll come visit us for those as well!

We had a lot of great guesses on the last mystery object, and several people on social media guessed correctly!  Hopefully we get some good guesses this week as well with the new object. Here it is:

This object is made of metal and has two oval sections, with 7 metal bands. It’s hinged at one end with a simple lock on the other. There is a long wire handle attached at the other end.  It’s roughly 2 feet in length.

The object also as the words “Lewis Holmes, Keene, NH” and “Patented March 24, 1868” written in raised text on the edges of the object.

Here’s another look from the side:

Do you have any guesses as to what this object might be?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Keeping Warm in the Cold

We had some good guesses this time around for the identity of the cold weather item we posted on Monday. Guesses included a holder that could contain brandy while stored clandestinely  and a foot warmer.  The foot warmer guess was correct!

The foot warmer is used by placing very hot water inside of the opening beneath the brass screw top. The hot water radiates through the ceramic vessel, keeping it warm for extended periods of time and giving the user radiant heat that they could place their feet on or next to.  A person could wrap a blanket around their feet and the foot warmer to help insulate even more, and women’s long skirts could accomplish the same task. 

They came in a variety of sizes and varied from utilitarian in nature to quite decorative. This particular foot warmer features pretty detailing on the handles:

Other foot warmers even featured descriptive ads and information on their sides:
(Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons, Joe Mabel)

Ceramic foot warmers like this were popular in the 19th and early 20th century. They were good not only for home use, but for a variety of other situations which might feature cold or drafty rooms during the winter such as a meeting house, or church. 

A very popular use was for travel during the winter. Whether in a carriage or a rail car, the user could keep their feet safe from the drafty cold by carrying one of these along with them. The hot water could be replaced as needed, making a long journey in winter a little bit more comfortable.  

Come check out the foot warmer and other previous mystery objects at the Museum along with our holiday decorations.  Don’t forget that this weekend, Saturday December 6th from 2-5pm is To Grandmother’s House We Go!  The program will feature an afternoon of holiday fun including storytelling, caroling, and graham cracker houses and popcorn garland!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Hello readers!  Hope you are all staying warm in the month of December!  We’ve been very busy at the museum getting ready for new exhibits next year, so we apologize for the delay here on the blog. Thankfully we are back to Mystery Mondays!  

Here is the latest mystery object: 

Many years ago, on a day like today you might want to have one of these handy. They could be used in the house, or even when traveling.  Can you guess what it is?

The object is ceramic, half cylinder in shape and features a small brass screw top opening.  There is a decorative handle on either end of the object.  It is a little longer than a foot in size. 

Post your guess in the comments!