CUP­BOARD LOVE

OUR BE­LONG­INGS CAN RE­VEAL MUCH ABOUT OUR LIVES. THESE HOUSE­HOLD ITEMS, AMASSED OVER A LIFE­TIME BY JEN­NIFER ALEXAN­DER AT HER SUR­REY HOME, ARE HERE CU­RATED BY HER SON

The Simple Things - - THINK | MINDFULNESS - Words: JOHN ALEXAN­DER

IRON

Iron­ing was once hot stuff, fig­u­ra­tively as well as lit­er­ally. In the 1930s metal heat­ing ap­pli­ances, such as irons, were new and highly de­sir­able – but pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive. See­ing an op­por­tu­nity, en­gi­neer Donal Mor­phy and sales­man Charles Richards reg­is­tered a pri­vate com­pany and set about mak­ing and sell­ing these home ap­pli­ances, with irons first com­ing off the pro­duc­tion line in 1937. This Mor­phy-Richards At­lantic Iron, from 1951, ar­rived with a new, more er­gonomic han­dle.

TOI­LETRIES & GROOM­ING

Dur­ing the mid- to late-20th cen­tury, groom­ing prod­ucts were fairly min­i­mal. Most house­holds had a styp­tic pen­cil – a med­i­cated stick made of pow­dered alum crys­tal. An essen­tial part of most men’s shav­ing kits, they were used to seal small shav­ing cuts and nicks. In the 1860s, en­gi­neer and in­ven­tor Ma­son Pear­son joined a part­ner­ship that made brushes by hand. Pear­son in­vented a me­chan­i­cal brush-bor­ing ma­chine, and soon af­ter also de­signed the in­no­va­tive rub­ber­cush­ion hair­brush, still used to­day.

EM­BROI­DERY THREADS

In around 1800, two cousins, Jonathan and Wil­liam Har­ris, opened a weav­ing shop in Cum­bria, where flax had been grown for cen­turies. The shop was a suc­cess and they bought two lo­cal mills, soon up­grad­ing them from wa­ter- to steam­pow­ered. By the 1850s, the Har­ris fam­ily ex­panded into pro­duc­ing linen sewing threads. Af­ter a long, suc­cess­ful his­tory, the firm sadly closed in 1934 dur­ing the de­pres­sion.

SEWING

The 20th cen­tury was not a throw­away pe­riod; if socks or stock­ings were dam­aged, they were re­paired. But­tons, hooks and eyes and press studs were re­placed when miss­ing or bro­ken, and sewing was usu­ally un­der­taken by women, who kept a fully stocked needle­work bas­ket. Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, the Make Do and Mend cam­paign en­cour­aged the re­pair of clothes and soft fur­nish­ings. Sewing and knit­ting cir­cles be­came com­mon, ei­ther for friends and fam­ily, or to send to the armed forces.

TINS

From the early 19th cen­tury, patented medicines and re­lated prod­ucts were of­ten pack­aged in tins. And in the Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian eras, these were quite wordy and flowery. Curly ban­ners, serif fonts and ov­er­en­thu­si­as­tic claims all grad­u­ally be­came re­placed by greater clar­ity and in­tegrity. Many of these tins date from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, so they re­flect the later 20th cen­tury’s aim to ap­pear hon­est, de­pend­able and eye-catch­ing.

SCALES

This Sal­ter kitchen scale was made in 1957. Sal­ter be­gan in 1760, when broth­ers Richard and Wil­liam started mak­ing spring bal­ances in a cot­tage in Stafford­shire, go­ing on to pro­duce Bri­tain’s first spring scales. In 1825, nephew Ge­orge took over, and the busi­ness thrived, by 1950 em­ploy­ing more than 2,000 peo­ple.

THERMOS FLASK

In­vented in 1892 by Sir James De­war, the vac­uum flask only came into com­mer­cial use in 1904 when two Ger­man glass blow­ers formed Thermos GmbH. The trade­mark was sold to com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Thermos Ltd in the UK, who pro­duced the first ma­chine-made glass filler in 1911. In 1923, this new in­su­lated food jar, the Thermos Jumbo Jug, was in­tro­duced and be­came an in­stant hit.

TOOLS

In the early 1960s, Greensleeves pro­duced ‘qual­ity gar­den tools.’ These secateurs were made in 1961. The small blue plas­tic po­lice­man-shaped Inger­soll Lok-eeze bot­tle con­tains pow­dered graphite, which was squeezed into locks that needed eas­ing. In the 1950s, be­fore cen­tral heat­ing was wide­spread, the Tom­bac Draught Seal­ing Strip was help­ful for draughty homes.

Pho­tog­ra­phy: TONY BRISCOE

Adapted from Granny’s Kitchen Cup­board by John Alexan­der (Pav­il­ion).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.