Monday, November 21, 2011

Washing Up

American made ceramic. Decal decoration.

English made and hand painted. Very well know,"Moss Rose", pattern. 

German made, fine china and hand painted.
      What we take for granted everyday,was once not even thought of. Indoor plumbing! Very wealth people with servants or slaves had it pretty good, but, the middle and lower classes had it rough. Somewhere along the last party of the 18th century, pottery companies all over the world started producing washbowl and pitcher sets. These are what I refer to as, "early bathroom items." These sets would allow for washing one's self up. Water was carried by bucket or kettle to fill the pitchers. The water was dumped from the picture into the bowl, where one would them proceed to wash up.After washing the bowl was usually emptied by throwing the water out the window. Now, not always, some people had what was called a slop jar, that was used to empty the waste into and then this was carried  outside and emptied.
    Almost every ceramic, potter, and china company produced these washbowl and pitcher sets.  From plain white ironstone to the fancy hand painted china sets. I have seen them  in books and museums, some made from cut glass and sterling silver. I do believe that Napoleon,  had a solid gold set, that he used out in the field during his battles.Of course he would!
    These   washbowl and pitcher sets were used, and remained popular, all through the bottom part of the 19th century and the entire 20th century. In some remote parts of the world, they are still in use today. Some of them were part of 6,8 or 12 piece sets. They were almost always used in the bedroom and were placed on a piece of furniture  called a washstand. More often than not, these stands had marble tops. They usually a small quilt like cloth piece hanging behind them to protect the wall from splashing water.
   With the invention of indoor plumbing, more and more homes no longer needed or used these sets. Today more than 99 percent of the worlds population had indoor plumbing, so these sets have become more of a decoration or a collectors item. Most people purchased the sets to go with the rooms decor. Of course,people with wealth could afford the more beautiful and elaborate sets.
   I have three bedrooms at ,My Old Historic House. I have a set in each room. Where they are just decoration, no longer used, I think they add that historic charm that I try to achieve in my old home. The three sets that I have are made in three different countries. The white one with the pink roses in my Blue Guest Chamber is American made and dates back to the late 1800's. The Moss Rose one in my Purple Bed Chamber is English and is more of a pottery or ceramic than it is china. This simply means it is a heavier, thicker walled  material, and not a thin porcelain. The last one is in my room. It is German and is hand painted china or porcelain. I chose it because it has the same background color as my Toile wallpaper. I love the stylized hand painted flowers as well. I would say that it dates to 1890-1900.
   I hope you enjoy my little lesson today on early bath room items. Please come some time soon for a real tour and see them for yourself. I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will always meet you with a big jump and a kiss. In the mean time, I send you Best Thanksgiving Wishes ,from my blog to yours.


Marcia said...

Thank you for another informative blog with good, colorful images to go along with it. That's so funny about throwing the water out the window! I keep wondering when you are going to run out of material; I guess never!

LANA said...

Those pitcher and bowl sets are beautiful. I've always wanted a set, I think I might just get one for my bedroom dresser after seeing yours. Have a great Thanksgiving!

xinex said...

Beautiful wash basin sets, Richard. You always have the neatest collection of vintage and antique items. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!...Christine

lvroftiques said...

I thoroughly enjoy your lessons and antiques Richard! They're all beautiful sets, but I would expect nothing less *winks*
I'm still giggling to myself over your comment about finding a turkey shaped jello mold! Seriously I'd buy one if I could find one! Lol!
We're going out for Thanksgiving dinner this year so thankfully I'll have actual turkey....just not the tons of leftovers that I look forward to...Oh well gotta watch the waistline *winks* Anyhoo my friend I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! Will you be having a grand dinner at your place? Vanna

Heirlooms by Ashton House said...

I love washbowl sets and you certainly have a lovely collection of them. I always love visiting your blog because it's not only inspiring but informative, too!

Anonymous said...

Dear Richard,
The first pitcher and bowl with those roses is just gorgeous! I think I romanticize the Victorian Era too much at times, I don't think I would have cared to use a chamber pot!
Give Sissy a hug and many blessings to you for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Rhissanna said...

Oh! Ironies! Yes, please, I'd LOVE a ewer and basin wash set, right now! My well has failed and I'm washing in a plastic bucket with cold water from a (very kind and helpful)neighbour's hose!

A pretty little basin I could fill with hot water would be a big improvement. Thank you again for such an informative post. I didn't know about the little piece of quilt to protect the wall from splashed water. How sensible!


Your wash basin sets are gorgeous, I specially love the German hand painted one, but then again, I love them all! Imagine if someone was passing by your house and you were throwing your dirty water?!! LOL!
You have such exquisite things you collect, so thank you for sharing them with, plus a story to them I always enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your cutie pet. FABBY

Katie@LeBeauPaonVictorien said...

I love your gorgeous sets of washbowls and pitchers; all of them are lovely! I've been looking for a nice white ironstone set for our guest room and a washstand to go with it. I already have a white ironstone chamber I just need the washbowl!!! Thanks for sharing!

Pamela Gordon said...

Very beautiful wash sets. I love that last photo with the cute vintage children's pictures above the wash stand. I have a blue and white transfer ware set along with the soap dish, a cup and chamber pot cover and, the wash stand too! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Sissysmom said...

Hi Richard- Your pitcher and bowl sets are wonderful. I have one very similar to your American made set with the roses decals. Mine is not a fine china, more of a set that would have been used by middle or lower middle class.

Hope you and Sissy Dog have a great Thanksgiving, give her a pat on the head from me!!

By the way i'm just on a temporary break from my Goodwill Hunting!! I'm still looking for a fabulous find to match Vanna's!!


Gary said...


What exquisite pitchers and bowls! The English set in particular enamors me by its styling. Now you have me thinking that even in this day of convenient plumbing if it would not be a unique treat to offer houseguests a pitcher and bowl (maybe filled with rose water) for light freshening up on arrival. Guess I will need to start looking for a pitcher and bowl, plus a stand.

As always thanks for sharing your collections as well as your wealth of knowledge and the inspiration that both instill. Hoping you have a most wonderful Thanksgiving and if your hosting on the day I am sure it will be a treat for eye, pallet and soul. – gary

Pearl said...

There so beautiful Richard, and yes they add that extra touch to the past for your home. You think of everything. Thanks to for the lesson. Hugs, Pearl

mississippi artist said...

Another beautiful collection. I love the large one with the roses. I noticed the photos of the children in the last photo, so precious. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and save some turkey for Sissy.

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

These are gorgeous Richard!

Hoping you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

Hi Richard, as always I love your lessons. Your wash bowls and pitchers are gorgeous! Can't imagine having to used them this day and age..
Happy Thanksgiving... hugs ~lynne~

Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

Many Blessings to you and your love ones this Thanksgiving..Hugs and smiles Gloria

Butterbean Row said...

You are a wealth of information! I really enjoyed this post. The English wash set is my favorite.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Anna at the Doll House said...

I have the poormans' version of these in white enamel trimmed with blue that sit in an iron stand.


Historical Ken said...

I, too, would like to wish you a blessed Thanksgiving, Richard.
Enjoy the harvest!
Ken from Passion for the Past

BeautifulDees said...

I love your post's, I learn something new each time. Thank you for your visit...I love it when you come by.
Have a great Thanksgiving.

Curtains In My Tree said...

I love your old wask up bowls LOL

Thank God we have indoor plumbing now

I love all of your wash bowl sets.I have one a flo blue

I use to have it on an old oak wash stand but since I sold all my old oak furniture it is gone except the wash bowl set is in the living room filled with something sitting on the floor.

Everybody who hasn't toured your home is really missing out. I can't wait for my second tour

xoxo to Sissy and you

Curtains In My Tree said...

oh fogot to tell you gobble gobble

Happy Thanksgiving

Lizabeth said...

You have an amazing collection! You are so good about sharing your knowledge! It's a treat to read!
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Kathy said...

Hello Richard,
I wish you a very blessed Thanksgiving!
I can imagine how it must have been in this era. Our water heater has been out for nearly a week now - we are toting hot water upstairs to bathe and even to wash dishes and clothing. I just love pitchers and bowls as decorative items - and I love how they melded functionality with beauty. Wonderful post,

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

Richard, Thank you for your wonderful comments to me, so heartfelt. I hope you and Sissy have a blessed Thanksgiving. It takes a special person to be the caretaker of such a wonderful home as yours. Hope the Christmas season is the beginning of magical things.

Shelia said...

Hi Richard and a most beautiful post! I love the tossing the water out the window bit! :)
You're a treasure chest of knowledge!
Thank you for the BD and Thanksgiving wishes! I wish for you and little sissy dog to have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Be a sweetie,
shelia ;)

Anonymous said...

What lovely ewer and basin sets! Thanks for sharing them. I wish my bedrooms were large enough for wash stands where such pretties could be displayed, but I do have one wash stand crammed into my bathroom with a blue set on top. It gives me a lift to see it every day.

My grandmother didn't have running water in her house for many years. I remember her washing dishes in an enamel dishpan on top of her woodburning cookstove. One of my chores was to carry the used dishwater onto the backporch and throw it through the window screen. Such fun!

Glad you had a good Thanksgiving,

Olivia said...

Oh my sweetness I am in heaven over the moon for those gorgeous rose pitchers and bowl sets! Love, Love!

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

You have lovely sets of wash bowls and pitchers! They look great in your house. I looked for an affordable set for many years and finally found a matching set with no chips or cracks. It sits on the wash stand in my bathroom, and is blue transferware, and I just love it! Thank you for the history lesson of how they were used!


Unknown said...

This isn’t a history lesson. The real lesson is that you’re narrow minded and inconsiderate. “People with slaves had it made, but the other whites that couldn’t afford slaves had these wash basins”. Fuck you and your history and your wash basins. Slaves didn’t even have that shit.