A Bit About Furniture

To simplify matters, I like to think of there being two kinds of Colonial era American furniture. The pieces made by very skilled craftsmen, and pieces made by local village craftsmen or the homeowners themselves. In the 18th century, for example, the skilled craftsmen would be making pieces in the vein of the Chippendales, the Hepplewhites and Sheratons, reproductions of which are still being produced today.

One early prized piece of furniture would have been the Elizabethan court cupboard. This one is from the Plimouth Plantation museum.
Some early American court cupboards were brought over from England, and others were made here. Below is another example. I’ve seen pictures of quite a few cupboards similar to these.
Here’s a miniature version I sell on New England Miniatures. For simplicity we call it a Tudor cabinet, but it’s really a court cupboard.
A piece like this would have been kept in the main room of the house, or, as it was known at the time, the hall. Whether we’re talking about a large, stately home, or a one room dwelling with gaps between the boards that let the wind through, it was still called the hall.

A furniture mainstay of the early colonists was the chest. They were used throughout Europe for storage. Eventually some of them began to be made with drawers like the one below, which is from the 1600’s.
Sometimes the chests were put on taller legs, and eventually they began to be transformed into what we know as the highboy, sometimes called a chest on chest. They began by changing the original style chest by giving it a drawer instead of a hinged lid. Then they’d make another chest, full of drawers and stack it on top.
The one pictured below is probably from the late 17th c. If you cover the top of the picture, you can see how the bottom would have looked when it was used alone. Instead of the drawer, it would have had a hinged lid.
Below is an English chest made in the mid 1700’s. It has two drawers, and the top hinges open.
Keep in mind that at the time, it was still the custom to fold your clothes and put them away in chests. Closets weren’t going to be invented for a long time, and hooks were just for hanging up your hat or cloak because they might be too wet to put away. Well into the Victorian era even winter coats were kept in chests, drawers, or on shelves.

Another handy piece of furniture from the period is the gate leg table. These were in use in England since the 16th c. They were wonderful for small rooms, as they didn’t take up much space, yet yielded a good sized table when open. The one below is shown in a New England house built in 1686. The photo was probably taken in the 1930’s.
Below is a well made miniature example from New England Miniatures showing the details.
In the 17th & 18th centuries, even when houses got bigger, rooms were multitask. Even well into the 1800’s it was common for beds to be in the room that was considered a parlor. In early days, when houses and rooms within them were small, you’d want to get as much use out of a room as you could. Below are several old photos of colonial era folding beds. The top one was from Massachusetts.
This next one in a tavern ballroom in Virginia. An old tavern rule card was found that read “No more than six can sleep in a bed”
This was a reproduction of a 1700’s cabin in New York state. All of the furniture are original pieces from that era. Note the folded up bed against the wall.
While on the subject of beds, here’s an example of a Dutch boxed bed from New Amsterdam. You can find the same kind of bed over and over in old Dutch paintings.
Many early settlers didn’t even have beds, they used bedrolls that they put away each morning. If they did have a bed, they might have a trundle bed tucked underneath it that small children might sleep in. Other children could sleep on the floor on thin mattresses filled with rags, corn shucks, or whatever was handy.

The most common pieces of furniture in early America were stools and tables, of which there were many styles. The trestle table was the simplest form of table. The table top was a large board that simply rested on two trestles, like a board on two sawhorses. When it was time to eat, you’d put the trestles in the middle of the room, and bring over the board that was usually resting against the wall. It was often called a board table, and if the family covered it with a cloth when they sat to eat, they called it a board cloth. If someone told you to “come sit at the board”, they were inviting you to eat with them.

Another common sort was the hutch table, a combination table and chair. When not in use it would be folded up and serve as a chair. When needed, it would be pulled out into the middle of the room and the table top would be laid down.
If you go back and check the picture of the cabin illustrating the fold up bed, you’ll see the piece of furniture below in use as a table.
The seat lifted up to reveal more storage space. I’ve found quite a few pictures of these sort of combination tables.
Here’s one I found in a kitchen at the Sturbridge Village museum.
Stools would have been the first things the colonists made to sit upon. Benches probably came next. Benches could be sat upon, or you could use them to set things on. A bench could be backless, just a long plank that sat on a couple of supports, or it could have a back to lean against, and maybe side panels to shelter you from drafts.

Chairs were a bit more complicated to make. This is a very typical 17th c chair from England. It has a leather seat and back support. Many chairs from the late 1500’s and 1600’s looked a lot like this one, some simpler, some more ornate.
Of the Chesapeake bay area settlers of the 1600's, 1/3 had chairs or benches but only 1 in 7 had both.
Generally, when people dined, they’d pull up stools, benches and chests up to the table to sit on. If the family owned a chair, it went to the head of the household, thus the word “chairman”.

Colonial era houses, whether large or small, just didn’t have a lot of furniture.

If you'd like to read a book about everyday life in early America, read Everyday Life in Early America, by David Freeman Hawke. It's an excellent and highly regarded book, available in many libraries and from booksellers like Amazon or ABE.

Early American food and drink

These first three articles were based on notes I had rewritten in a more or less orderly fashion a couple of years ago. From here on articles will probably be on a slower schedule, depending on what else I'm doing.

A 1600’s or 1700’s American breakfast could consist of a mug of beer or cider, bannock or hoe cakes, and a bowl of porridge, and often a cornmeal pudding called mush, pap, Indian pudding or hasty pudding. The pudding would be eaten with milk poured over it or maple syrup or molasses. When butter became a possibility it was added too.
The pudding took hours to cook, it would be begun the night before, and left in a covered kettle, to simmer slowly. It had to be stirred often and the stirrers were called “porridge paddles”.
Although today we think of oatmeal porridge, there were many kinds of porridges in colonial days. Suppawn, samp, hominy and succotash came from corn. Suppawn was a thick porridge of cornmeal and milk cooked together. This was a favorite of the Dutch and southerners. Samp was a coarse hominy, made by crushing the kernels in the mortar, and boiling them up, and eaten cold or hot with milk or butter.
A favorite in New England was bean porridge. It was cooked in bake ovens in large quantities, and some of it would be set aside for freezing. When taking a journey, the family would chop off a portion to carry with them.
It became a custom to eat bean porridge with a brown bread made from corn meal on Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturdays around noon time the village baker would go around the village gathering up the pots of beans and he would then cook them in his oven. On Sunday morning he’d return the beans with the brown bread to his customers. In some towns the pots were collected on Saturday morning, and returned in time for supper Saturday night.
Porridge could also contain meat or other vegetables. Gruel is what you ate when you were so poor that you had to water down your porridge to make it last longer.

Because water was little used as a drink in the old country, it was considered by the colonists to be unfit for consumption. The English clung to ale, the Dutch to beer, the French and Spanish to light wines. Because beer was so easy to brew from barley and hops, or from roots such as ginger, sassafras or spruce, it quickly gained popularity in the colonies.
When Harvard University opened in 1642, each student furnished his own pewter mug and wooden trencher. Breakfast was at 5 AM, consisting of bread and beer. The meal was called a bever, from old English, meaning a light meal. The second meal was served in the late afternoon. It consisted of a meat pie, hasty pudding with bacon, oatmeal porridge, a dish of eggs and beer. In 1657 the students drank 270 barrels of beer.
As time went by a third meal was added in the middle of the day. It usually consisted of meat , hasty pudding, dumplings, a vegetable and beer.
In England, during the reign of Henry VIII, his wives’ ladies in waiting had enormous daily beer rations as part of their yearly compensation.
Although the beer that was drunk in the 1500 through 1600’s had a lesser alcoholic content than the beer we’re used to today, it’s still one heck of a lot of beer.

The first apple orchards were planted shortly after 1630. With the increase in the apple crop, beer began to be supplanted by cider. A man could leave several hundred barrels of cider in his will.

The wooden plates of the early settlers were called “trenchers”. Usually 2 people would share one. If a man and woman did, they were considered to be engaged. It’s related that in one town a newcomer had individual trenchers for each member of the family, and the town magistrates reproved him for his extravagance.
Salt came in coarse form and had to be pounded before using. Salt boxes were kept by the chimney for cooking, and salt was served in a small wooden salt bowl at the table. Individual salts appeared some time later. The salt bowl was customarily used as a dividing line when company dined. Those of higher rank sat “above the salt” those of lower rank “below the salt”.
Wooden porringers were used, but some had pewter ones.
This is a miniature copy of a pewter porringer. An almost identical porringer was found in the remains of Port Royal, Jamaica, a town that sank into the sea during a 1690 earthquake.

Drink was served in a wooden noggin, or small cup, that was passed around. Some however had sets of 2 or 3 noggins that were made on a lathe.
Leather bottles and cups were in use. Sometimes the edge of the cup was bound with a band of tin, it was called a blackjack.
Sugar bowls were made of wood and could be as much as 15” wide. Maple sugar was plentiful, white sugar was sparingly used and came in a conical shape. One used sugar nippers to break pieces off, and if it was to be used in baking, one had to crush it in the mortar with a pestle. Maple syrup was the most often used sweetener wherever maple trees grew.
Pewter utensils were used in conjunction with woodenware. Many affluent households did not use wooden ware at all, but people living out in the newer settlements, away from transportation centers used it for @ 200 years. Wooden tableware was advertised for sale as late as the Revolution. Much of the colonial era pewter ware disappeared during the Revolution, having been melted down for bullets.
China did not appear in general use till the 18th c., and even then in most homes it was rarely brought out of the china closet.
Here's a typical china closet. This one was in a house built in Pennsylvania in 1756, and I've seen pictures of almost the exact same closet from several colonies and Britain.
Here's a closeup of the inside.
and here's how they would have displayed their china to guests. These closets were often found in rooms that were designated as parlors by later historians.
I suppose if you wanted to show off your fine, expensive china to someone who wasn't staying for dinner, you'd have to keep it in your parlor instead of your dining room? Actually, rooms did double duty in those days. I'll be writing about that in the future.

The first eating implement used was the spoon, often fashioned from a shell attached to a wooden handle. Sometimes nuts or gourds were used. Many people carried their own eating knife when travelling.
By the 1680’s forks with 2 tines had appeared, but they were only used to hold down the meat while it was being cut. The meat was then conveyed to the mouth on the tip of the knife.
For many years children did not sit at the table, they would stand behind their elders and be given portions of food. They were not to speak or ask for anything. Sometimes they had a small table of their own.

Parched corn was beaten to a powder and could be carried on journeys. Three spoonfuls a day, mixed with water or snow were supposed to be able to sustain a man. In the time of famine in the first years of the Pilgrim settlement, they were allotted 5 kernels of corn apiece.
Corn was used as legal currency. It was even used as a ballot in some town meetings. A kernel of corn meant yes, a bean stood for no.

In some sections of New York, Pennsylvania and the South there were bake houses, where large amounts of food could be baked.. The big ovens took a lot of work out of the kitchens. In New England there were village bake shops, and many taverns had baking ovens in their cellars.

Pumpkins, though plentiful, were not popular with the colonists. They were called “pompions”. One way of cooking them that was more popular was to cut off the stem and a bit of the top, then scoop out the seeds and the soft center part and then bake the shell in an oven. Milk would be poured inside when it was served.
Vegetables used included beans, peas, turnips, parsnips, carrots and potatoes. In the beginning people thought that if you ate potatoes, after 7 years you would die. When they were first cooked, they were served as a main dish, mixed with butter, sugar, grape juice, dates and lemons, and seasoned with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and pepper. They would then perhaps be frosted with sugar.
Potatoes were initially carried to Europe from the Americas. Some Irish immigrants brought them to New Hampshire, from where they spread to other parts. Sweet potatoes were imported from Brazil and then grown in the South, where they were just called potatoes. The tuber that we call a potato today was at that time called an Irish potato.

In time of plenty, after the settlements were well established and thriving in the later period, there was an abundance of food. One dinner report listed the following among desserts and relishes….flummery, jellies, sweetmeats of 20 sorts, trifles, whipped syllabubs, floating islands, fools, and a dessert of fruit, raisins, almonds, pears, peaches and wines.
In the early 1770’s Judge Sewall had a dinner of boiled pork, boiled pigeons, boiled venison, roast beef, roast lamb, roast fowls, salmon, oysters, fish and oil, conners (blue perch), leg of pork, hogs cheek and suet pastry, bread and butter, minced pie, apple pie, tarts, gingerbread, sugared almonds, glazed almonds, honey, curds and cream, sage cheese, green peas, barley, yoke (corn) in milk, chocolate, figs, oranges, shattucks, apples, quinces, strawberries, cherries, and raspberries. The guests numbered 25.
I was not able to find out what shattucks were.

Also in the 18th c. a record of a Philadelphia fancy dinner lists 3 tureens of turtle soup, several dishes of stew with boned turkey, roast ducks, veal and beef. There were 2 kinds of jellies, various puddings, pies, preserves, nuts, raisins, apples and oranges.

Supper was generally a light meal, perhaps Indian pudding or bread and butter with a drink, which was usually beer or cider.

Tarts and pies were popular fare. One early Thanksgiving pie consisted of bear meat and dried pumpkins, sweetened with maple sugar and a crust of cornmeal and water. A Swedish parson wrote home in 1758 in his account of settling down in Delaware, “ Apple pie is used through the whole year, and when fresh apples are no longer to be had, dried ones are used. It is the evening meal of children. Housepie, in country places, is made of apples neither peeled nor freed from their cores, and its crust is not broken if a wagon wheel goes over it.”
There was a poem written sometime in the 1800's about dried apple pies.

Dried Apple Pies
I loathe, abhor, detest, despise,
Abominate dried-apple pies.
I like good bread, I like good meat
Or anything that's fit to eat;
But of all poor grub beneath the skies,
The poorest is dried apple pies.
Give me the toothache, or sore eyes,
But don't give me dried apple pies.
The farmer takes his gnarliest fruit
'Tis wormy, bitter, and hard, to boot;
He leaves the hulls to make us cough,
And don't take half the peeling off.
Then on a dirty cord 'tis strung
And in a garret window hung,
And there it serves as roost for flies,
Until it's made up into pies.
Tread on my corns, or tell me lies,
But don't pass me dried-apple pies.

Pies were also made of all kinds of berries, pumpkins and squash, mince meat and custards. Pies were made in large amounts in the late fall and set aside to freeze for the winter, as many as 40 or 50 at a time. When needed they were thawed in the tin biscuit oven. As food became plentiful pies were served at every meal, even breakfast.

There was a great deal of pickling and candying. Spices and various herbs were heavily used.

Many varied birds were eaten, also deer, squirrels, and hares. Lobsters weighing 25 pounds are recorded and there were some caught in New York Bay that were 5-6 feet long. They were so plentiful that they were considered poor man’s food. They were gathered by children who would hunt for them under rocks on the beaches.
There were crabs 1 foot long that could feed 4. Oysters were also reportedly quite large.

If you're interested in early American cooking and recipies, check these sites.
The old Foodie is full of recipies and cooking techniques used over the centuries.
Here's the Old Foodie recipe archive.
There's also the Historic Foodies' blog.

You can find some interesting articles by Victoria Rumble, the Historic Foodie, here.

EARLY ARTIFICIAL LIGHT… or it’s sure dark in here

Once the sun set it was a dark and shadowy world in colonial America. In most smaller homes, people saw only by the light of the fire on the hearth. Burning candles or oil in lamps was wasteful. You didn’t use them unless you really needed them. Even the well to do lived in comparative darkness. Candles were placed and moved about the house only where they were needed.

One early form of lighting was the rush light, used since at least medieval times. Rushes were cut and dried, then dipped in hot fat or oil. They’d be clipped onto rush holders, many of which did double duty as candleholders too. I don’t happen to have any pictures of rush holders, and each picture of one I’ve seen looks different. They were all made of iron, and had a hinged section which would grasp and hold the rushes. They would also have a candle holder. You can Google rush holder and find some pictures. A good 2 ½’ rush would burn about 1 hour.

Early candles were made of wax or tallow or mixture of both. Spermaceti for candles was introduced in the mid 1700’s. It was a hard white wax found in the heads of sperm whales.
Bayberry wax was gathered by boiling the berries of the bayberry bush, then skimming the wax from the surface of the water.

Wax candles were made by basting the wick with melted wax. When thick enough they were rolled while warm to make them smooth. Wax candles could not be made in molds, because they shrank too much as they cooled. Tallow candles, ones made from animal fats, could be dipped or cast in molds. Wax candles were more expensive to buy, so tallow candles were more commonly used, in spite of the fact that they smelled and gave off smoke. Even the well to do often tended to use tallow candles for every day.

In 1709 a candle tax was imposed. All home made candles were forbidden and the apparatus to make them was hidden or destroyed. The tax on wax candles was twice that on tallow ones. The British had to deal with the candle tax until the 1830’s.

Candle holders existed in every possible form.
These are bedroom candle holders from late 1700’s.
Oil lamps came in every possible look too. The simplest kind of oil lamp was to pour some oil into a cup and put a string wick into it.

Hand lanterns came in many varieties. Some had glass or horn shades. Sheets of mica were also used as safety lantern shades. Other lamps were metal with one open side to cast light, while other metal lamps had perforated sides all around. The metal lamps could be square or cylindrical.

Just imagine, when some 18th or early 19th century writer described a room lit up for a grand ball as being as bright as day, they may very well been talking about a room equivalent to one lit by a 25 watt bulb today.

Circa 1824 painting by Henry Sargent

Early American fireplaces and cooking

The heart of the earliest homes was always the hearth, so let’s start there.

The earliest fireplaces were simply places where you set the fire. There might be an opening in the wall or roof to let out the smoke. Later a smoke hood would be added to channel the smoke up and away from the room, and eventually the fire place evolved into what we think of now as a fireplace.
This is a typical fireplace from the colonial settlement at Jamestown. What you're seeing in this picture is half of the entire house.
The earliest American fireplaces were fairly small, but as things became more settled, and there was more time for chopping and collecting wood, they began to get larger, up to 8 or 10 feet wide in some cases. They could be big enough to place a bench in, so becoming the warmest place in the house. There was a custom in England to have a small window in the back wall, and some early Americans also did this. Later, as ready wood became scarcer, fireplace started getting smaller again.

Sometimes a wooden or metal crane would be hung at one end of the fireplace to hold a blanket that would screen people from the cold. The houses of the American colonists would get so cold that water would freeze in basins, and ink would freeze up in the inkstands.

Originally all cooking was done in and over the fire. When ovens were introduced, they were originally in the back wall of the fireplace or to one side inside the fireplace opening. Later they began to build ovens as separate units next to the fireplace.

The ovens were made in a beehive shape, with a domed roof. The oven door was a wooden panel. It was set close to the bricks and it rested on a wooden handle. It may have originally had a tin liner to protect the wood from the heat, though badly charred doors have been found, suggesting that either not everyone used a tin liner, or if, after they fell off or wore out, they weren’t replaced. Later, as tin doors became available, they replaced the wooden panels, and by the early 1800’s cast iron doors on hinges were being installed.
This picture of the fireplace at the Fenno house at the Sturbridge Village Museum shows an older fashion oven in a back wall, and an oven door sitting on the floor of the hearth.
The Fitch house, also in Sturbridge had a metal oven door, seen on the floor on the right hand side, next to the shiny, reflective pan. On the hearth floor you can also find a Dutch oven and a toasting rack.

Some fireplaces had a small opening beneath the bake oven, which served as a warming oven.
This photo taken at the Parsonage, in Sturbridge, shows an ash pit, below a bake oven, and an oven door.
This is the inside of a typical bake oven.
The oven had its own flue, and a fire would be set inside it. When the bricks were thoroughly hot, the ashes would be raked out and the oven was ready for baking.
Another version was one in which an ash oven was used below the bake oven. The fire was built in the ash oven and the heat rose through a vent up into the bake oven. This oven cooled off more quickly, because the bricks didn’t get as hot.

After the hot embers were swept out of the oven, prior to the loaves being slid in on a peel, oak or cabbage leaves would sometimes be laid on the floor of the oven in lieu of baking pans.

In the South, bread was baked in a flattened cake formed on the head of an iron hoe, the handle of which stuck out from the hearth into the room. They were generally made of corn meal or a corn meal mixture and came to be called hoe cakes. In the North similar cakes were baked on small wooden boards called bannock boards, thus called bannock cakes. The bannock would be propped up against a kettle or on it’s own handle if it had one and the bread would bake in front of the fire.
Many fireplaces in Colonial America would have had a cast iron fire back. The fire back protected the back of the hearth from damaging heat. In large fireplaces, sometimes the heat from big fires was so intense that bricks would begin to crack and have to be replaced. Generally, however, the Colonial era fireplace would not have had a large fire set in it, but rather perhaps several small fires, the same as we would have a high heat on a modern range to bring a pot of water to a boil, and another burner set to simmer.
Fire backs, when used, weren’t very big, generally only about 15” wide. A very large fireplace might have one up to 36” wide.

Firedogs or andirons were another accessory. In England they more often used grates into which they would pile smaller pieces of wood or coals. In America, where wood was plentiful, they would use andirons upon which to rest the logs.

This sketch of the kitchen hearth at Mt. Vernon shows spit dogs, with a wooden spit rack on the wall above. Meat would be skewered on the spit, then placed on a pair of hooks to be turned and roasted close to the fire.
Another contrivance for turning a spit was an iron fan, set up in the chimney flue. It was kept in motion by the draft passing up the chimney. Chains went down from it to the spit in front of the fire and the revolving of the fan turned the spit.

Another version of a spit can be found at the Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH. This is a picture of a tavern fireplace in the 1770's. The hand crank used to turn the spit is in the upper left. You can see a rope is attached to the end of the spit laying on the spit dogs.

Cookware hung above the fire suspended from cranes.
Cranes could be simple iron bars running the length of the fireplace, or they could be made to swing back and forth above the fire, or they could have up to 3 different movements. Sometimes a wooden “lug pole” would be used instead of a crane. The lug pole would be cut from green wood, to withstand the drying heat longer. Pots hung from the crane or lug pole with pot hooks, trammels, or chains with large links. On occasion the pole would dry out, catch on fire, and collapse, bringing pots, kettles, trammels, chains and all down into the fire.

The crane below could swing from side to side, and the pot could be hung from several spots along the line.
In those days, one never let the fire go out. The fire would be raked into a pile and covered with a curfew, which was usually made of brass or copper. It would be placed over the embers and pushed to the back wall of the hearth. In the morning it would be removed, the embers raked apart and fresh wood laid on. This illustration shows 2 English curfews, together with a fire fork and a blowing tube. The blowing tube served the same function as a bellows. It was a long iron pipe, the bottom of which would rest down on the floor of the hearth. One would blow into the pipe to fan up the fire. Other fireplace tools included shovels and tongs.
Bellows were used to fan a weak fire to blaze. If not available, then fans and turkey wings would be used.
Various brooms were kept to keep the hearth clean. The most common was made by tying brush twigs to a wooden handle.


Generally most fireplace tools and cookware were similar to those in England going back to Tudor times.
Small piles of coals, embers or ashes were used for cooking, rather than a single roaring fire. Also, they weren't placed so much within the recess of the fireplace, but towards the front, upon the hearth.
A pot had bulging sides and a cover, while a kettle had sloping sides and no cover of it’s own. Families prided themselves on the amount of brass kettles they had. Very large kettles were called cauldrons and were usually of copper, brass or iron. They could be extremely valuable and would be passed on in wills.

Pots, pans, and skillets began to be manufactured in the colonies @ 1725.

The earliest skillets brought over from Europe were shallow pans with rounded bottoms, on 3 legs with a long handle. They varied from 6” to 12” wide. They were used for cooking in the embers, and were originally called posnets or pipkins.

Another form of skillet had a flat bottom and straight shallow sides. It had a short handle, 3 short legs and was called a spider.

“Fry pans” were of iron with 3 foot long handles with holes at the tip of the handle so they could be hung up when not in use. The short handled frying pan came into being later when stoves became more common.

Dutch ovens were the first ovens used for baking. It would be embedded in the hot coals and ashes, and more coals would be placed on its flat lid. Any large iron pot could be used as a Dutch oven, however.
Double boilers were also used at this time. The separate pieces could be used individually or paired.

Trivets were another necessity. They were high or low and came in assorted sizes. They held kettles, footless pots, were used as plate warmers, etc.

There were gridirons which were used for grilling fish or meat. They looked like iron grills standing on 3 legs, with a handle. A drip pan was placed beneath them to catch the drippings.
Griddles were of iron and used to bake oat and later buckwheat cakes. The Indians in Virginia used griddles made of stone or pottery, and some colonists may have adapted them to their own use. There were also used as toasters and were often made in delicate patterns.
Wafer and waffle irons were originally used in church services, dating from the 14th c. and eventually they began to be used in the home.
Another item was the flip dog. This was a long iron used to heat the drink called a flip or toddy. The end was heated in the embers till red hot then plunged into the drink, which sizzled. It probably reacted with the sugar in the rum giving a sort of caramelized taste. They were 2-3 feet long with either a tear shaped or pointed end. It was hung right by the hearth and was used quite a bit.

Going from the top, there’s a round gridiron which turned on a pivot, and under it a square, stationary one. Below that are a couple of toasters. Next a copper plate warmer with a sliding shelf, and a hanging griddle.

Then of course there were also many kinds of skimmers, spatulas, meat forks, etc., tools made of wood, tin or iron.

A tin roasting oven was in use by 1790, and may have been invented as early as 1729. It was a half cylinder reflective oven, with a door that opened in the back so that you could check the meat and baste it. The meat was fastened to a spit that ran through the oven, with a hand crank at one end.. The meat juices were collected in the curved bottom and there was a spout at one end to pour them out when the meat was done. They could be anywhere from 1 foot to 4 feet long. This photo shows a front and rear view of a tin oven or roasting kitchen. They were also referred to as kitcheners or hasteners.
There were also specialized roasters for birds, apples and rabbits. The one on the left was for birds, on the right for apples.
Tin reflector ovens were used for baking biscuits. They stood on legs and had one side open to the fire. There were several variations in style and size.

See my Picasa album with more pictures of Early American houses.
You're also welcome to browse any of the other albums.