• FA-114033 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Glass and Ceramics
1850 - 1899
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Foot warmer, stoneware, England, 1853

Anyone in England who happened to own a foot warmer by Doulton & Watts around 1850 could certainly count themselves lucky. With their distinctive snout-shaped handle these stoneware hot water bottles were sometimes referred to as ‘pigs’.

They were characterised by an elongated cylindrical shape, bright colours, a filling spout with a threaded stopper, and a carrying knob at one end. Hot water was poured in through the spout. But for the vast majority of people, the only heat source available as bed warmers were still heated bricks.

In the 1830s and 1840s, recurring cholera epidemics in London and a growing awareness of health in general gave rise to an entirely new production sector known as sanitary ware. People began to realise that health hazards did not come from the air, but from filthy water and toxic effluents. Fresh water and sewage pipes (or rather sewage gutters) that had previously been made using porous bricks were now manufactured using glazed materials.

The Doulton & Watts pottery in Lambeth, South London, emerged as a pioneer in this sector. Besides salt glaze bottles, pitchers, cookware and bed warmers the company expanded its product range to include salt glaze ceramic sewer pipes. Glazing helps to make earthenware tight, hard, smooth, and coloured too. Salt glazing involves throwing common salt into the kiln at the height of the firing process. At temperatures in excess of 1200 C the salt decomposes into sodium chloride, which escapes via the chimney, and sodium vapour, which binds with the clay body to form a thin, hard glaze.

Doulton & Watts made use of steam machines early on, thereby gaining a competitive edge on other manufacturers. By 1850 they were the leading manufacturers of sanitary ware. Besides foot warmers such as this exhibit from the Technisches Museum Wien, the company also made chest warmers. These hot water bottles of different shapes and sizes were fitted with eyelets or mounts so that they could be worn attached to the body.

Manufacturer: Doulton & Watts, Lambeth, England
Production date: 1853

Inv.Nr. 62142/1
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