Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beat it! Not really...you can read it!

Although our temperatures have spiked into the 80s and even 90s inland this last week in April, spring cleaning is still on the agenda for many…or not…but I have always been fascinated by various household items if not cleaning. This is a copy of my well-used Housekeeping Collectible book.

There is a history to spring cleaning...one is based in Persian tradition where the practice of "khooneh tekouni" which literally means "shaking the house" is done just before the new year. Everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture.

The ancient Jewish practice (a full 700 years before Persian culture emerged) of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the spring-time holiday of Passover is still practiced by observant Jews. I liked the next historical tidbit...in 19th century America by March, one could open the windows and the spring winds would carry off the dust!

It is hard to imagine dealing with rugs without the vacuum cleaner, but wall to wall carpet was not common until the early 20th century. Carpet applied to table and wall coverings since carpets were not commonly used on the floor in European interiors until the 18th century. The term "carpet" derives from Armenian "karpet" (կարպետ), "kar" meaning a "knot" or "stitch". We use carpet interchangeably with the term "rug". The hand-knotted pile carpet probably originated in Caucasus between the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. Cilician Armenia, which had intensive trade relations with Venice and brought carpets to Europe, where they were primarily hung on walls or used on tables.

The rug beater flourished in America from the Civil War through World War I. Made of wood, rattan, cane, wicker, spring steel or coiled wire, they can be quite decorative, but imagine the frustration you would release as you whacked that carpet…whump…whump…whump…I imagine many housewives felt so much better after beating the carpets and did not need Zoloft or Paxil or Scotch and soda!


Here are 2 rattan beaters currently in the shop. I really got a chuckle out of my hotel rug…and, no, I did not take it from there!!!


This wire beater comes complete with the supplier’s name…it is always wonderful to have the history as part of any vintage item.

The Industrial Revolution spawned the invention of the vacuum cleaner. With factory soot and dirt everywhere, you could beat your rugs all day and still not have them clean.

A patent was issued for a cleaner in 1860, but there are names that are familiar to the 21st century even though their milestones in cleaning go back over a century in some cases: Bissell - 1876, Hoover - 1908, Eureka - 1909, and Oreck – 1978. James Dyson built 5000 prototypes before he perfected his Dual Cyclone machine in 1993, and in 2002 Helen Greiner and her colleagues at iRobot introduce Roomba the robot vacuum cleaner. (Have to chuckle…a woman invented that robot cleaner…you go, girl!).

So, at least we can look at rug beaters as decorative accents unless you want to, as Michael Jackson sang, "beat it…no one wants to be defeated"…and not by dust!

Or...be a true American...open your windows and wait for some strong winds!

5 comments:

The Empty Envelope said...

Love the history!!! So wonderful. Thank you!!! And those beaters are amazing!

gail said...

Hi Susan!! Wow did you go from winter to summer overnight? Aaaghh. We had a nasty heat wave last week and I think its just made its way along the east coast. I am sure its going to be gorgeous there soon! It is pretty much summer here and I did my deep spring clean a few weeks ago. I think it needs it again. LOL
I hope you have a great week.
Hugs, gail

Carolee Crafts said...

Your posts are always so informative, thank you for sharing. I love spring cleaning, clears the house for the long summer days.

Marie said...

Hi Susan,
I really enjoyed this post. I remember my grandmother beating her rugs. My mother always had a Hoover. Thanks for the great information.
Marie

Janet Bernasconi said...

Hi Susan,

Where do you get these amazing things?? My mother had those kind of irons when she was little. Can you just imagine how heavy and how time consuming it was? Thank God all we have to do now is plug it in and iron. Makes life easier. Although I do love vintage items. You're a good teacher. I always learn something new.
Thanks for sharing and have a great week!
xxoo

Janet
Janets Creative Pillows