Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Blow pipes, Iron blowers, Fire-blowing tubes

Six 'iron blowers' were in the 1818 inventory of Virginia Gov. Preston taken in the Virginia Governor's Mansion, built in 1811. They were long thin tubes with a mouth piece, which were also called ‘fender blower,’ ‘blower,’ 'iron blow,’ ‘blow tube’ or ‘blow pipe.’  Bellows were also available to start or intensify the kitchen fire.  

“The best kindling is charcoal, and a little light wood to give it a quick blast, and with the aid of a sheet iron blower, I have my grate [held coal in fireplace] well ignited in eight to ten minutes.”   [American 1820].   

"The fire-blowing tube has survived in Europe. A specimen secured in Spain in 1892 by the writer consists of a brass tube, the upper end open full and the lower end having only a small hole, the object being to send out a jet of air under pressure. The lower end has two iron prongs for stirring the fire and the upper end a curved hook for hanging the implement to a suitable peg. The two prongs on the end of the Spanish fire blower also suggest a survival."[Hough 1926]

This steel and brass blowpipe photo, (America, late 18th/early 19th cen), has a brass mouthpiece and hook at the end to move the wood and coals, and has two holes for air direction.   It is 4 feet long, the others are about 3, and the middle two have a double rods at the bottom end for support when blowing or perhaps to rearrange wood/coals. [Skinner]

The middle picture is of an iron blowpipe with a handle and straight bottom.  

I did the research for a 2011 talk (Va Governor's Mansion was 200 years old, and still a residence with tours), so the Skinner auction photos are no longer on their site.

~American Journal of Science, Volume 10 1820
~Hough, Walter.  Fire as an agent in human culture.  Smithsonian bulletin #134  1926 p19 tube
~Kitchen implements in la Nouvelle-France period (17th & 18th centuries) website HERE
~Lecoq, “Les objets de la vie quotidienne”, page 85  Blow pipes from the Hotermans Collection. First image
~The photos are from Skinners auction house online and more firepokes HERE
©2019 Patricia Bixler Reber
Researching Food History HOME

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