Brass And Copper Utensils Part 2

Large brass kettles were put to other uses besides cooking. Michaud's " Early Western Travels " has this to say about a brass furnace:

"About two miles from West Liberty Town I passed by Probes' Furnace, a foundry established by a Frenchman from Alsace, who manufactures all kinds of vessels in copper and brass, the largest containing about 200 pints, which are sent to Kentucky and Tennessee, where they use them in the prep aration of salt by evaporation. The smaller ones are for domestic uses."

This was in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania in 1802.

A little later on in his narrative he says: "At Springfield or near it is Mays-lick where there is a salt mine. For evaporation they make use of brazen pots, containing 200 pints, and similar in form to those used in France for making lye. They put ten or twelve of them in a row in a pit 4 ft. deep, and at the ends throw in billets of wood and kindle a fire. These sort of kilns consume great quantities of wood."

I have never found any of these kettles marked or stamped in any way. They are not difficult to find, and, brightly polished, are always ornamental.

Among the lists of goods belonging to the pioneers aa'Iio came to this country are often to be found objects "metal," of Prince's as it was called. This was a com position of brass, arsenicum, and copper. " Latten ware," was used also, and this was largely composed of brass as well.

By 1700 the records show a great variety of house hold articles, and make interesting reading. Cornelius Jacobs in this year had several pairs of brass andirons, and two pairs of iron " dogs," though just what the distinction was it is hard to tell.

Captain Giles Shelly, of New York, had in 1718 a fine lot of household goods, including seventy chairs, which would seem an ample allowance to most of us, even in these days of machine-made furniture. He had as well a pair of brass candlesticks with snuffers, a brass hearth with hooks for shovel and tongs, a brass lantern, two warming-pans, a chafing-dish of brass and two of silver. In fact it was a great sur prise to find Iioav general was the use of chafing-dishes. Although brass ones are frequently mentioned, I have never seen one, but copper ones are not unusual, and there is a fine one, made by Paul Revere, at the Rooms of the Antiquarian Society at Concord, Massachusetts, which was presented to the Society by his grandson.

In 1720 Judith, the daughter of Judge Samuel Sewall, was to be married, and as the bridegroom was well-to-do, the Judge proposed that his daughter's outfit should be of unusual elegance for that time. They sent to England for it, and I shall give list of the metal objects only which were included in it: One bell-metal Skillet of two quarts, one little one ditto. One good large warming-pan, bottom and cover fit for an iron handle. 4pair of strong Iron Dogs with brass heads, about 5 or 6 shillings a pair.

A Brass Hearth for a chamber with Dogs, Shovel, Tongs and Fender of the newest Fashion (the Fire is to ly upon Iron). A strong Brass Mortar that will hold about a Quart with a Pestle. 2 pair of large Brass sliding Candlesticks about 4 shillings a pair. 2 pair of large Brass candlesticks, not sliding, of the Newest Fashion, about 5 or 6 shillings a pair. 4 Brass snuffers with trays. 6 small strong Brass Chafing-dishes about 4 shillings apiece. 1 Brass basting ladle; 1 larger Brass Ladle. 1 Pair chamber Bellows with Brass Noses. 1 small hair Broom suitable to the Bellows. 1 Duzen of large hard metal Pewter Plates new Fashion, weighing about 14 pounds. Porringers." 1 Duzen hard-metal Pewter Perhaps in Judith SewaU's outfit, to go with her brass hearth and " Fender of the newest Fashion," was included a handsome stand like the one shown in Figure 171. This is of brass, and has places for two candles at the top. The lattice-work shovel was for scooping up the live coals and letting the ashes drop through. Of course she did not have such a splendid coat of arms for decoration, but some ornament was usually put in this place. There is a stand similar to this, but of brass and steel, at Van Courtland Manor, New York. It belonged to Colonel John Chester, of Wethersfield, Connecticut, who was born in 1748. The candle-holder in this latter case was movable.

Governor Montgomery's effects were sold at Fort George, New York, early in the eighteenth century, and among the unusual things specified were the following: "A large fixt copper boyling pot. A large copper." iron fireplace, an iron bar and doors for a

A very charming fireplace, dating from about the middle of the last half of the eighteenth century, is to be seen in Figure 172. The brass mountings are patriotic, since, besides our familiar eagle, there are medallions of Washington and Franklin. This fire place is fitted with a crane, and has a delicate pair of firedogs also. One may grieve to see such a generous old fireplace wailed up, but if it must be, it is fortunate that so agreeable an object has been found to take its place.

Sea coal was advertised for sale in 1744, and about this time Philadelphia fireplaces came into use. This was shortly before Franklin had invented his grate. Steel hearths and stove grates came into use by 1751, and iron stoves with brass feet were advertised for sale. Copper was sometimes used for making grates, and copper furnaces were plenty, — that is, little affairs standing on legs and holding a few coals to keep a kettle warm on the hearth.

Among the pieces of brass s1ioaati in Figure 173 is a smoothing iron with a drawer that pulls out to receive hot coals, and the thing that looks like a clumsy spoon is a spoon mould, also of brass. Into this mould was poured the spooning peAAdjer, and then allowed to form in shape. The Colonial village which owned one of these moulds considered itself rich, and it was passed around among families as they needed it. The spoon at the back with the long handle was for basting.

The little candlesticks were for tallowdips, and the tall one stood in the best room. The noggin was for a nightcap of peach brandy, schnapps, or that beverage which is put down in so many old account books as " W. I. Rum." There lies before me as I write the diary of a New England judge, a man of high standing and dignity in the community in which he lived. The diary covers that eventful period in our history included between 1754 and 1788, and presents a wonderful picture of the life in a New England town. The noggin brought to my mind what hard drinkers our ancestors were, and Iturned at random to this diary to see what the judge had to say on the subject. The page where I have opened is dated August, 1772, and I find the following entry for the first day of the month:

I "went to MacGregores and got the bushell of salt that I paid him for last fish time in shad, and a bottle of snuff, and a pair of brass sleeve buttons for which I paid him Hamprold Tenor."

On the 3d he and his son went out to mow, and after mowing " the path to the meadow, I full of Rum from Wm. Caldwells wife." borrowed a flask

On the 4th (next day), " I went and got twO Quarts of Rum at Hugh Campbell's on credit." On the 13th, "I sent David to Means to get tea," Gallon of Rum and l/2 pound of and on the 24th he got two quarts more of " Rum on credit from Campbells." Such little utensils as are shown in Figure 174 were used in the preparation of the drinks which were often compounded of the rum, which our good judge allways spelled with a capital letter. This drink was used universally in all homes from that of the parson down. It was cheap.

Fig. 174 Warming-Pan and Kettles. Fig. 175 Copper Kettles. Fig. 176 Copper Teakettles.

In another for liquor two place was the quarts; judge says this he pays was a pistareen about twenty pure, and their lives were so filled with hard work out of doors that they seem someliOw to have cents. The lived through their excessive drinking. Tea was more expensive than intoxicating liquors, — about four shillings a pound, though the value of "tenor," " tenor," pista- money varied so, old lawful reens, and Spanish silver, all being in use. Such a little kettle as is shown in Figure 174 had many uses. do I not doubt that the housewife boiled her tea in and it, that heated water for many it glass of toddy. family had a warming-pan, and most necessary a they Every were in the cold, damp houses which were seldom warm from autumn to spring. They were commonly of brass, but this one of copper, as is also the ladle. large kettle of the ordinary type and is The is of wrought is copper, most of them. as were It exactly like a is kettle which belongs to collector who has a number a of beautiful and valuable objects, — old china, glass, pewter, and brass. I asked her once what thing among all her treasures she liked the best, and "she said, without a moment's hesitation: That battered little old kettle, for it took me nearly two years to getmind." it, and in all that time it was scarcely out of my [...].

She had seen it in a tumble-down old cottage where lived an old man with his daughter. They were neither of them ornaments to society, and were scarcely ever at home at the same time, since their love for the flowing bowl caused them to spend much time in retirement — at the town's expense. Her first offer was the modest one of fifty cents, in very bad condition, — battered as the kettle was and rusty. This sum proved no object to them, and during the time she was in pursuit of it she rose little by little till she finally paid five dollars for — a preposterous price, truly, but she had it, become so wedded to the idea of owning it that she could not give up. In Figure 175 given is a group of utensils of various kinds of copper, with a kettle of different shape. It was such a kettle as this which met a curious fate at...

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Source

The Collector's Manual by N. Hudson Moore, Amy Richards. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1906.

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