Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pitchers and Bowls...great for display...glad we don't have to use!

I am not the camping type...I want to go where the water is running, and it is hot...and the toilets flush! But...until the mid 1800s indoor plumbing was not common, and it was not until the 1870s that home designs included a bathroom. Before that, the pitcher and bowl could be found in every "bedchamber".

Kitchens featured drysinks...many tin or copper lined...that would hold large wash bowls for utilitarian uses. But every home had one of these bowl and pitcher sets. Usually they came with more pieces such as a soap dish, a slop jar (for disposing of the waste water), a chamber pot, a toothbrush holder. They were placed on a piece of furniture called a featured storage below for the slop bucket and chamber pot. It is ironic to see people buying old bureaus to convert to sinks! What goes around come around!

This set is by W. H. Tatler, a Trenton, NJ, company that was in business 1874-1953, and the set dates to 1887.

Interestingly, ancient civilizations were tuned into the value of personal hygiene, and it is documented that the Mesopotamians used beauty products and ­rituals—­baths, facials, hairdressing, cosmetics, ­manicures and pedicures. Good grooming was an increasingly important sign of status. Egypt was the first capital of cleanliness deluxe, and its practices of mummifying and making up the dead are with us ­still.

Early Christians felt spiritual purity was better than personal cleanliness...bathing was out since it brought about the sins of the flesh. The Middle Ages brought a return to bathing, but from the mid-16th century well into the 19th century in much of Europe, a person could go from cradle to grave without a good wash. One historian says, “Water was the enemy, to be avoided at all costs.”

However, some families obviously understood cleanliness. This pitcher and bowl date to 1889 and were made in Bristol, England, by Pountney & Co. I have included some close-ups of the transfers...really a unique set.

Fortunately the Industrial Revolution brought about sanitation concerns, and according to this same historian "By the late 19th century, the United States was much cleaner than Europe. Amer­icans liked innovation, and hotels proudly advertised showers and flush toilets as tourist attractions. As more young women took jobs in offices and factories, the shortage of servants sped the introduction of new cleanliness technol­ogy into the average home."

This body pitcher is marked Peerless Pottery Company Philadelphia...and they are still in business making modern bathroom fixtures.

This dates to the early 1900s, and it is obvious not everyone was into running water or these were found in personal bedrooms so that one did not have to leave his/her room to bathe. The same goes for the infamous "porta-potty!"

So...bottom line...I am so grateful for my bathroom...running water...I cannot imagine myself in the early morning hours wrestling with one of these pitchers...I am amazed so many have survived! By the way, if you do have just a bowl, they are great for storing extra towels, toilet paper, or soaps in a bathroom.


Cottage Flair said...

I really love pitcher and bowl sets the but thought of actually having to use one...scary!! Great post, learned a few things as usual. Where do you store all of the wonderful items you have for show and tell each week???

gail said...

Hi Susan,,, I love this post. I truly look forward to learning something new each week from you. AND I am thankful I live in this century. Can you imagaine going your whole life without a good scrubbing.??? Your pitcher and bowl sets are beautiful. Have a great day. (())gail

gail said...

Susan, your so funny. I love the squirrels. I am afraid they wont like the 106 degree heat we still have out here. lol Maybe I could come and visit them sometime? I was laughing my head off the other day at work. ON line we found groups and clubs that were squirrel lovers. At least I am not that bad. Make peace with the squirrels :) Thanks for making my day... gail

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I read a few former posts as well. I loved the story about the woman who purchased instant ancestors.

sita said...

Great post I agree I sooo appreciate my running water from the bath to the toilet! I couldn't live without. At least they did their "business" with style!!!!! Lovely items.

Noelle Garrett Designs said...

Susan, What a great post. I would be lost without running water. Beautiful pitchers and bowls.

Carolee Crafts said...

Love the pitchers and bowls, particularly the lilac one. What would we do without water and soap, dread to think. Thank you for sharing.

Lilli Blue said...

My grandma had a bucket for a chamber pot and I am not THAT old.
My momma and her sister bought her a toilet one year for Christmas.But we still used an out house cause grandma didn't want to waist the water! Ahhhh! I love the old chamber pot. wouldn't that make a great cat box for the most shabby chic home.....LOL Great as always Lilli

Anonymous said...


I always look forward to your Show & Tell's. My grandmother had a wonderful Pitcher and Bowl set that I would admire on visits to her home. Thanks for the memories.


Patty said...

I love the pitchers , I have several myself and love to display flowers in them. Yours are just beautiful. Sweet Pink Hugs Patty

Unknown said...

Hi Susan,

Every week I am amazed at all the beautiful things you share with us. That pitcher is amazing. Love all of it.
Janet's Creative Pillows

Silena said...

Hi Susan, Wow, what a great post!!! Makes us very, very grateful for living here and now!! A whole lifetime?!? I can't go a day without a shower! Your beautiful antiques are beautiful and priceless and would make a great addition to any collection!! Thank you!!

Patricia said...

Yes, Susan, you're soo right. As beautiful as the pitchers are, I am so glad we don't use them any more. For flowers, they are marvelous. Great post as always.


Inka Smith said...

Hi Susan,
I love old bowl and pitcher sets. I have 3 of them. I can't even image going from birth to death without a bath!!! yuck

Shabby Shan said...

Hi Susan,
Very interesting post. I'm with you on the camping thing, it's not my cup of tea. Your pitcher and bowl sets are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!


Susie said...

Hi Susan! I love indoor plumbing too. I have my Mom's antique pitchen and bowl set with all the additonal containers. I keep my dried hydrangeas in the pitcher.
Great show and tell, as always, Thanks!
Susie of The Polka Dot Rose

Brown Bee Studio said...

Hi Susan! It's quite shocking to learn of how past generations handled personal hygiene isn't it? I like to think the chamber sets made a rather distasteful matter a bit more pleasant for them then. I like Lilli's idea of the chamber pot kitty box a LOT! lol xoxoxo Andie


I so enjoyed reading your post - I love old pottery. Here in Yorkshire UK Chamber Pots were called "Gazzunders" because they go under the bed - hope that translates lol
xx Chris

Anonymous said...

OOO! love the Marie dish!

Unknown said...

I have a question: back when these pitcher and bowls were in use, were they called just "the pitcher and bowl" or was there a specific name for them.(I am dense in the head :) I would love an answer, but, dont worry in you cant. I'm writing a book, and I was looking for the answer for part of a scene.

Diane Negrón said...

Great pictures! I'm 26 years old and I just discovered these! I'm actually planning on buying one :)