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!

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