Monday, 16 February 2015

Vintage Stoneware Hot Water Bottle

Gentle Reader ~~~ here is a little vintage blast from the past ~~~ a stoneware hot water bottle that belonged to my Great Grandmother.  Few things bring such comfort as hot water in a bottle, and I remember, as a child, this dangerous beauty used to warm my bed as it did for many in the family before me.

I don't know the make, for there are many manufacturers of stoneware bed warmers {maybe Denby or Langley Ware} dating from the early 1800's onwards until rubber hot water bottles came to mass production in the early twentieth century.  They are extremely robust in construction and many survive today so there is no shortage and very little value to them.  Of course, that mine belonged to my forebears means it has a value greater than money can buy, for it has kept the feet of my family toasty warm on many a cold winter's night for decades when Jack Frost danced through the night ~~~

It is heavy before being filled with hot water, and, as I recall, was put into my bed and moved around at intervals for an hour or so to make my bed toasty warm before I was safely tucked in with a modern rubber bottle at my feet to keep me warm as I drifted away into the sea of sweet dreams.  

I feel lucky to own it, for it has not been seen for decades, assumed broken and thrown out in years past, but recently I was clearing a long forgotten corner of the attic ~~~ and there it was, having made the journey some thirty years ago when we moved house ~~~ hidden in a dark corner where no one went and only spiders lurked ~~~

Cleaned and spruced up, I have taken these photographs and must now decide what to do with it.  It is a lovely cream colour, warmer than these images show, with a rich brown glaze and stopper. I don't know what the pattern is, other than leaf like, but is quite traditional.  It makes me think of pastry leaves on a pie!  I think it is best to simply find a considered spot, maybe on the hearth, and leave it on display and appreciate it for it's simple and honest beauty.  It is certainly not to be used to warm the bed any longer!








Few things compare to the cosy comforting warmth provided by a hot water bottle ~~~ be it to cuddle and keep you warm or to provide relief from an injury.  Nowadays, the popularity of hot water bottles is waning due to the convenience of the electric blanket, but I confess that I adore my cosy hot water bottle more than any electric blanket!  

~~~Do you use a hot water bottle, or do you prefer an electric blanket?  





31 comments:

  1. Deb, I have never used a hot water bottle. Your ceramic one is a beauty! I never knew that they were made from stoneware. Of course I've read about folks heating up a brick by the fire and then wrapping it with a heavy cloth and placing it in bed. I can see this placed on a hearth as a lovely decoration and conversation piece. How wonderful to find this treasure-- I loved learning about it! ♥

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    1. Hello Martha Ellen ~ yes, I've heard of that old brick trick too. Have you ever seen the Warming Pans they used hundreds of years ago? They are like chestnut roasting pans, only you fill them with dying embers from the fire and smooth them between the sheets to warm the bed up. The hearth is the most likely place for this to take up residence, although at the moment it is in my covered porch.
      Try snuggling with a hot water bottle next time you are feeling under the weather ~ they work magical wonders!
      ~~~Deb

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  2. Oh, Deb! What a wonderful family treasure! It must have been so exciting to discover it in the corner of your attic after so many years! It is especially sweet because it is filled with warm childhood memories. It would look so pretty on your hearth! I have seen the Warming Pans used long ago. Our family never had a hot water bottle at all. We just used lots of warm blankets! Does a hot water bottle stay hot for a long time? Thanks for sharing your incredible find, my friend! ♡

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    1. Dear Dawn ~ why, a cosy and warm hot water bottle is the perfect companion for a pile of quilts adding an indescribable level of comfort and cosiness to a cold winter's day snuggled in front of the fire ~~~ I fill my {rubber} bottle with boiling water from the tea kettle and it stays warm all night long during winter, keeping my feet comfortable. Less water though, and colder room temperatures, will mean it chills more quickly ~ lots of variables behind how long it stays hot!
      I use a warm bottle against my back when it is bad for soothing relief too. Great for relaxing muscle strains and sports injuries.
      ~~~Deb

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  3. I can remember having a pink rubber type bottle - very comforting, and if you had back ache, leg ache etc you could place some soothing warmth on the exact spot.

    But what a lovely family treasure your bottle is .....

    All the best Jan.

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    1. These days I have a cotton cover on my hot water bottle ~ yes, I still use one! ~~~Deb

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  4. Is that a screw-off cap on top? Could you use it as a vase? :-) I've used rice in a sock, heated in the microwave--I use it on my sore neck muscles sometimes, too. I'd be afraid to use a hot water bottle because it would be a disaster for my mattress if it leaked! I don't like using electric heating blankets or pads because of the electromagnetic radiation they give off. We get enough emf from other sources we can't get away from in our modern society. I shouldn't think your stoneware water bottle would leak! I'd just leave it in the bed with me...maybe wear socks and let my feet cuddle up to it.

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    1. Yes, Cathy, it is a screw off cap. I have thought about using it for flowers, but, not only am I definitely not a flower arranger, I am struggling to think of what might look balanced with it. Rubber bottles seldom leak these days, but I understand what you are saying. My Aunt's electric blanket nearly killed her! I would never have one for the same reasons you speak of.
      ~~~Deb

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  5. Oh Deborah, what a precious treasure you have there!... I have never seen anything quite like that... and the fact that is has been in your family for so long makes it absolutely priceless!... I love hot water bottles as well... when I was a little girl, if I had a tummy ache, my mama would get me a nice warm hot water bottle to put on it... and of course, to warm our beds on a cold winters night... I take one to bed with me still, every night... it is a rubber one, in a cover that looks like a teddy bear... I even gave it a name!... Boo Boo... it not only keeps me warm, but fills my heart with tender memories from my childhood... thank you so much for sharing this... I love it!... xoxo... Julie Marie

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    1. Hello Julie Marie ~~~ yes, I have a cover for mine, it is cream and covered in pink and purple hearts ~ it was a gift, and most appreciated for a cover makes a lot of difference as to how quickly you can put your feet on it! They are indeed comforting on so many levels.
      ~~~Deb

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  6. It's lovely that your hot water bottle is so intact. I use neither, as I am constantly hot!! The joys of being a "certain age!"

    Gill your newest follower from Southern Ontario Canada

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    1. Hello Gill ~ welcome, and thank you for following. Oh, dear, despite being of a certain age myself I still love my hot water bottle at my feet!
      ~~~Deb

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  7. My grandma had an even more dangerous hot water bottle. It was metal and was filled with hot coals before it was placed in the bed. I was imagining yours filled with flowers

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    1. Yes,Sue, I think I've seen those, a bit like chestnut roasting pans on a long handle and it makes my hair stand on end! I think I'd rather have a cold bed.
      ~~~Deb

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    2. No it was a strong, metal cylinder like a long and large tin can and coals went in one end, It was then wrapped in a towel.

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    3. Nothing dangerous there then, as long as you don't use it ~ lol

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  8. I am going to try to leave a message one more time. I love your lovely blog. I get it in my e-mail box.
    I do like a water bottle too.
    I really liked the pics of the frosty leaves a few blogs ago. I agree with you too that DIET is what we eat, not something we do. I do not DIET either.
    Fondly,
    Margot~~~from Virginia Beach

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    1. Margot! Can you see me smile? Can you hear me sing? How lovely it is to see you here ~ at long last ~ for I know how hard you have tried! I am so happy you enjoy my little journal, and absolutely thrilled to see you and hope you will be able to make it back.
      ~~~Deb xo

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    2. I love to garden, but this lot here is not good for vegetables. Poor soil and too much shade I think. I have even thought of planting tomatoes in the front yard. I have nice flower beds, but not enough as far as I would like. Now we hope to move this Spring. If we go home to Wisconsin we will be on a wooded lot. What is a girl to do?
      PS We even thought about moving to England, for a moment.
      OX
      Margot

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    3. You should try raised beds as you can control the type of soil contained therein. Soon, I will be sharing some news and I think you will find it interesting. Never say never! Where there's a will there's a way, and this year I'm growing tomatoes in pots without a green house {at least, that is the plan!}

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    4. I did have raised beds at a different place. Here we don't have room, so I used pots and buckets for tomatoes. I don't get much fruit or very big fruit. So someone said cut the bottom out of the buckets, someone else said use a bigger pot, then another person said pinch the plant back. Bigger plants, but no more fruit. I need my old country DIRT! LOL
      I wonder what the news could be?? hmm…
      I have been wondering if your husband was in the service, because you said you lived in CA and VA.
      Still freezing here.
      Margot :-)

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  9. Hello, Debs! What a special treasure. I have not seen or heard of one! Though, I imagine in early New England they must have been used! I think keeping it on the hearth is an excellent idea! I use a 'hot sock", we call it. It is easy to make -- a tube sock or old sports sock is filled with rice and then tied a knot in the top, and heated in the microwave. The rice hold the heat well for quite a while. Not nearly as elegant as your stone warmer! But it does the trick! We are busy keeping warm over here. We had 3" of snow on Sunday night, which is a pittance compared to my friends and relatives in New England. Everyone up there is busy digging. I'm off Facebook for a month, and enjoying it immensely. I do miss everyone, but the peace and lack of distraction are worth it for a while in order to get some things done! I do enjoy the blogs, though and good to hear from you. Waving back at you across the Pond! Jane xo

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    1. Okay, Jane ~ you know what's coming now, don't you?
      I am Pea~Green with envy that you have had snow, even if only three inches. The northern states have had a bad time of it, though, and I don't think even I would want all they have had at my age and living at the end of a long enough drive.
      Yes, rice or wheat bags seem to be the new hot water bottle, and while I like them for sport injuries {especially if infused with fragrant and therapeutic essential oils} I still like my water bottle for keeping my feet warm at night.
      ~~~Deb

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    2. Deb, I think I must dust off my water bottle! I have a darling pattern to knit a cover for one that looks like an owl! It will have to go on my list! I do hope you get a little snow before winter is over, but not too much! Jane xo

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  10. We use hot water bottles here. We have a lovely old one displayed in our bathroom which belonged to my Auntie Olive, my Grandmother's Sister in Law. Yours in nice with the treacle glaze on it, ours is plain.
    Fondly Michelle

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    1. I love your choice of treacle to describe the accent glaze ~ is this what it is called, or is it your choice of words?
      ~~~Deb

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  11. I too have an old stone hot water bottle. It has traveled with us on all our house moves. When we lived in a caravan for a year while renovating an old house we had a really cold winter and used it as an extra hot water bottle - Although we took it out before climbing into bed as stubbing a toe on a stone bottle can be a bit painful! I'm now going to find my old hottie, give it a dust and place it somewhere to display.

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    1. What a lovely story you tell! I'm glad you are going to find it and display it, for it has served you well. I may test mine for leaks and keep it at my feet as I sit by the fire during the winter for extra warmth ~ but not in bed in case of stubbed toes. ~~~Deb

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  12. I don't think I have ever seen a hot water bottle like that. I have seen the metal ones for hot embers. I think it's great you have found it again! What a wonderful piece of your past to have.

    Like you, I do not care for electric blankets, for the same reasons. I do not have a hot water bottle...yet. But I am going to get one. I do have some polished corn bags that are just like the rice ones. They are okay...but not like a nice hot water bottle.
    Thanks for showing us your treasure. I plan on looking for one over here the next time we are antiquing. Wish me luck!

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    1. Hello Dear Friend! I still find it hard to believe you do not have a hot water bottle! If it is very cold, I put one behind the cushion on my chair during the day too!
      Sending wishes that you can find something on your next trip ~ wishing I could tag along with you, we'd have such fun! ~~~Deb xo

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  13. Visiting from The Joy of Home and never knew about stoneware hot water bottles. Mine is rubber and on my to knit list is a cozy for it. I don't use electric blankets but do use wool blankets, spun and woven from my sheep. I'm old school and not sure I "trust" sleeping under electric lines.

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Thank you for stopping by today ~ I love reading your comments