So, I have a new obsession. Well, it’s been brewing for a few years. When you buy a 19th century home with 7 fireplaces you need fireplace accessories. We started with fire pokers, andirons, and 3 small coal hods. Now we have 8 variations of coal hods and scuttle bins.
This is our newest baby, a coal scuttle ash bin. It is the most complete one we own with the original bin inside and the tray and ring for fire tools in the back. It is also the most ornate one we have, with claw feet and brass hinges.
It may sound crazy, but this would have been an item of convenience in Victorian homes, especially for those who separated ash from coal to reuse the coals or sell the ash for brick making and for use in soil. You never wanted the ash to start a new fire and so it was kept in a fireproof container like this. Victorians were always looking for ways to do more with what they had.` 09
Basically, you are looking at a Victorian recycling receptacle. People in the past were way better at reusing and re purposing everything.
One of the questions that is always part of object-based learning activities I do asks if the object is complete or if it has been modified or changed from its original purpose. So many objects from the past are actually pieces of other objects that have been re purposed. Objects can have multiple narratives because of this.
My coal scuttle ash bin got me thinking about a recycling timeline with objects used for similar purposes. This would require some research on the history of recycling, but what a fun way to integrate history and science!
I am also thinking this topic would make a great application session when I do the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute in the summer. I need to look into this topic more as it relates to the 18th century.
I did find an article here from Victorian Homes magazine on recycling in the 19th century.
Yes, I used to subscribe to this magazine as a child.
I’ll just leave it there…obsessed with the past….always.
repurposing and reusing.
I found this article here from Victorian Homes magazine on recycling in the Victorian era.