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Victorian Festival - Chamber Pots


Each year Port Townsend has a Victorian Festival. It's an opportunity to dress-up in Victorian garb and re-live the older, simpler ways of life. How nostalgic.


All this Victorian splendor reminds me about my last visit to our local downtown antique shop Ms Bee Haven Antiques. While there I remarked to myself on how seldom we are seeing certain items now that were rather common in antique shops only a few years ago. Pitcher and bowl sets have become scarce and pricey. Butter churns of the old wooden type seem to have vanished. This then takes me back to that simpler more elegant time, a time of Victorian Splendor.

Chamber Pots, yes we don't see much of them anymore. They just aren't a popular antique. Never were. This very useful invention was as popular as the pitcher and bowl in its day in the family home but has never sold all that well in the antique market. I guess, "just being useful doesn't make it popular".

Oh, shop proprietors have tried to create a market over the years by showing them as a planter. Bright red geraniums or, in the Spring time how about cheerful Daisies? I knew one lady who used hers as a soup turin.


But, nope, just didn't seem to work. Sure the plantings grew quite nicely in there for some reason, but it wasn't a hit. Even offering only the clever chamber pots that had a picture of the Queen in the bottom, I take it as a political statement, hasn't created an enduring market.

Not to get too carried away with this remembrance from the past but, for those of us who completely missed living in this period of history we can only guess at what the world was like in the age of chamber pots.

Fortunately minimum wage laws weren't in place at that time to stifle the servant market. At those depressed wages we could more easily afford servants and needn't suffer the indignity of shuffling down the hall in the morning carrying, very carefully I might add, the pot to the back yard outhouse. How tedious. Ah, the simplistic nature of the French, they merely opened the window and slung.

Lids, you never seem to find them on the ones in the antique shop. I bet they had them. If I were shuffling down the hall I would consider the lid to be important. And, what about purchasing? Just how do you think the Proper Victorian lady handled the execution of a new purchase?

Imagine with me the fine lady of the house having decided to upgrade in elegance to a more brightly adorned piece of porcelain to fit her station in life. Does she simply
trottle down to the local general store to make her selection? If so, how would this conversation take place? "Oh, no not that one, the one on the left with the pastoral view of Monticello, yes". And, do you suppose they offered a "fitting room" just for this purpose? One wouldn't want the wrong size here, would one?


Yes, in many respects our rather recent ancestors led a quite a different life. I was thinking about that as I took the tour of our local "Old Vic's" that are on display. I wondered if any of the current residents of these Painted Ladies, who have taken such an interest in being authentic are living in the completely authentic manner?
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