Spring-Fall 2015: Eye Wash

These small ceramic objects, called eye baths, were used as early as the 16th century as personal-cleansing aids and are still used today. In these cups, people mixed saline or boric acid with water, placed the cup with solution over the eye, and blinked several times to wash out road dust or other irritants. Eye […]

Summer 2014-Spring 2015: Culinary Molds

Still hungry from our last Mystery Object? How about something sweet? These Staffordshire jelly molds, made of salt-glazed stoneware, were a staple in 18th-century English dining culture. In the second half of the 1700s, dining service à la française (“in the French style”) was at the height of its popularity. These dinners included a savory […]

Summer 2013-Spring 2014: Egg Beater

Hungry?  In the mood for an omelet? Eighteenth-century cooks used small, circular, covered vessels like these examples–made by Wedgwood of creamware, a kind of low-fired earthenware ceramic–to beat an egg. A series of spikes, or prongs, pointed toward the center line the inner wall. A cook broke an egg into the main vessel, covered it, […]

Winter 2012-Spring 2013: Asparagus Shells

These small, flat receptacles are called asparagus shells. During the 18th century in England, highly decorated ceramic asparagus shells graced the elegant dining tables of the wealthiest individuals, who used them to serve bundles of long asparagus spears. Usually about three inches long with low, vertical sides, asparagus shells were open at both ends and […]