Monday, September 17, 2012

Plate Warmers

Plates were warmed in the kitchen or in fancy plate warmers suitable for the dining room.   The open side of the plate warmer faced the fire to slightly heat the plates. The plates could be removed in some, through a door on the side opposite the fire. ...

"The plates are heated in three ways;—[1] by radiation [radiant heat] from the fire and from the plate-warmer itself, by [2] reflection from the plate-warmer, and also by [3] conduction and communication from it [heat absorbed by the warmer]." [The London and Edinburgh philosophical magazine and journal of science,  1835]

"The common plate-warmer, which seldom does its work; and, to do so, must stand between the fire and the company, who are thus robbed of their comfort."  [The Atheneum.  Boston: 1827]  For diners sitting too close to the fire, there were chair screens to protect their back, as I posted HERE
"If there should be no fire in the dining-room, you must warm them [dishes] in the kitchen; but be very careful in carrying them up stairs, that you do not let them fall out of the plate-warmer.  See that the door of the plate-warmer is fastened, and keep it towards you, with one hand under the bottom, and the other on the top.  Never risk the handle alone… do not put too many plates one on another, as they will often break this way…"  [Cosnett, Thomas.  The Footman’s Directory.  London: 1823]

Kitchen plate warmers could be a wooden case or a simple metal one, as seen at the Rock Run Mansion in Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace, Maryland:

One of a pair of japanned tin plate warmers which George Washington purchased in New York City, (in 1790 while President), is at Mount Vernon.  More information about this item is on the Mount Vernon website  HERE
The 1820 plate warmer in the  Merchant's House Museum , NYC, shows the original japanned painting. 

Other metal forms include a Georgian copper plate warmer
And an English brass plate warmer
The last four plate warmers are from the website links above each image.

©2012 Patricia Bixler Reber

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