Internet Wonders: Old & Interesting

April 27, 2010

This is such a great idea for a Web site:

This site is about . . .
. . . how people furnished and equipped their homes in previous centuries, and how they handled household tasks. Plans are to keep adding more articles, with the homepage updated every Wednesday—at least. Please email if you want to suggest a topic connected with the history of everyday home life, housekeeping, domestic objects, or any related bits of social history.

Simple and fascinating. There are many, many photographs of actual antique items, along with comprehensive descriptions of their histories. Just a few of the items covered:


Hot metal pressing irons are so common that we may forget how widespread wooden mangling boards once were. People who have heard of mangle boards may know they were traditional courtship gifts carved by young men in Scandinavia or the Netherlands. They were found further afield too, and were a standard way of smoothing linen from Russia to France, from Iceland to Bosnia. We know they were in use before 1600 and in some places were still familiar in the 20th century.

How do they work? Like the 100-year-old Norwegian tools in the photograph, the board was always one half of a pair. A roller was an essential companion to the board. While the board could be beautifully decorated on one side – sometimes with carved initials and dates – the roller had to be smooth and plain for effective “ironing”.

Go on over, take a look around, amuse yourself. You might even come across Uncle John walking the aisles of Tablecloths of the Middle Ages.