I am an avid collector of old or “vintage” kitchen gadgets and appliances, some are actual antiques. Mostly the gadgets are old but from time to time some new ones that are unusual or interesting appear and I add those to my collection, if they are quirky enough. Some are rather odd, some are clever (and actually work well) and some are downright dangerous! The late Victorian era seemed to produce a significant number of weird and wonderful gadgets, each with a single purpose, that were intended to make life easier – for the servants. Certainly it is clear that for an ordinary homemaker these things would be more trouble than they were worth. Some of these “time-saving” gadgets require two people to operate them efficiently.
You might find this link interesting:
“Why Do We Collect This Stuff?”
Jitterbuzz.com is an excellent site for the nostalgia “collector” and fans of “retro” living (and dancing). The menu for the entire site is HERE!
It is worth a visit if you were around in those days or if you have heard stories from your mom and dad, or other relatives about how things were back then.
Warning! You can spend a lot of time at the Jitterbuzz site, set a timer if you have other commitments!
If you are looking for some quality vintage items, check out the offerings at Gizmo’s – An Eclectic Vintage Collection.
I have a nice collection of electric toasters from the 1920s and 1930s and a few from the 1940s, all beautifully designed and they actually work. I also have a few waffle irons and sandwich presses from the same decade, all in highly polished chrome and exhibiting distinctive Art Deco designs.
Here is a photo showing a few.
Electric mixers are a particularly favorite collectible and again, I love the way they were designed to look good as well as work efficiently. I’ve lost count of the number I have. However, my collection pales when compared to that of other collectors.
There is an online forum (Yahoo Group) for those who collect electric mixers: WACEM – We Actually Collect Electric Mixers! And a very nice group it is and the photo archives are extensive.
One of my vintage appliances that sees a lot of action is a Westinghouse electric roaster that I have owned for over forty years. I have the fitted containers made for it that allows cooking several items at the same time but keeps them separate.
I prepare candied citrus peel and other fruits and especially candied or crystallized ginger and the roaster is perfect for the larger batches. For small batches I use a slow cooker but it is important to not crowd the pieces being candied so the roaster works much better when there is more bulk.
It also comes in handy for sterilizing canning jars so I don’t have a huge stockpot taking up room on the stove top. Saves a lot of time.
Odd and Unusual kitchen gadgets.
Never underestimate the ability of inventors to come up with an idea for something that fits a niche in the kitchen.
There is a weird and wonderful world of odd kitchen gadgets one never knew one needed.
Some of these gadgets are very useful, some are interesting and some look like they belong in a medieval torture chamber. Some require such detailed instructions on their use that they are more trouble than they are worth.
One wonders, “what were they thinking?”
Some of the early electrical appliances from the 1920s are downright dangerous, even with modern replacement electric cords. One very early one has two cords, each with one prong, which were designed to be inserted into a “light fixture plug.” This may seem like a mysterious item unless one had grown up in a home built before electricity and in which all the electrical lines were on the surface of the walls and ceilings and there was an electrical cord that dangled from the ceiling and held a single light bulb. This ended with a socket that would accept either a light bulb or a screw-in receptacle, into which one could plug an appliance.
Thus one would have either light or the appliance. It was some time later that a Y-type dual socket became available, with a bulb in one side and the plug in another.
Some of the old movies from that era shows this type of lighting.
A few years ago a “flatbed toaster” was introduced to the market as a “new” design, popular in the Scandinavian countries.
It’s interesting that some of the early toasters introduced in the 1920s were the “flatbed” type and some incorporated a manual turning feature that was (in its time) a noteworthy innovation. It saved a lot of burnt fingers as well as the possibility of electrocution if using a fork to turn the slice of bread!
The appliances developed and sold during the Art Deco era were designed to be attractive as well as useful. Some of the designs were actually quite beautiful and the engineering that went in to some of them was brilliant.
These were not appliances that were relegated to the kitchen. They were intended to be used at the table, especially for breakfast, and many of the magazine ads depicted them in such a setting, usually with an elegantly dressed lady of the house in the picture but occasionally with a maid in attendance. Ah, those were the days!
Cookware is another thing that I enjoy collecting. Some pieces inherited but others I collected or received as gifts and some were literally found at the side of a road. That was a bit of a mystery that I never solved. Perhaps a vehicle had broken down and the load needed to be lightened but it remains a mystery. I put an ad in the local paper but never got a response. My gain!
Here’s a photo of some old cookware, everything in this photo was made at least 75 years ago.
I have a large pantry and have many of my old cookware pieces hanging from the ceiling. I live in earthquake country and the sound of these things banging against each other is an excellent warning system.
Here is a photo of some of the collection of whisks, some old, some new, that I have collected over the years. I have more, just couldn’t fit them all in the picture.
Here are two photos of mezalunas or choppers, some made to use with both hands, some made for one hand.