Equipping and Designing the Domestic Realm
The majority of the books displayed here date from the nineteenth century on, and this century saw a rapid increase in both the need for such guides, and in the production of them. While technologies of cooking did change in the centuries prior – for instance, the use of coal in the 1600s led to the development of a new piece of equipment for the fireplace, the basket grate –kitchen equipment remained limited. The dramatic changes of the Industrial Revolution carried over into the kitchen, with improved utensils, for instance, becoming possible as a result of improvements in the ways in which sheet metal could be rolled. With the increase in manufacturing came a much greater range of kitchen goods available, and the household reference works of the nineteenth century and beyond provided guidance to consumers.
While the poor or those in rural areas still relied on open fires well into the nineteenth centuries, those with greater means began using closed-top ranges, which allowed the user to fry, bake, or cook, all at the same time. Manufacturers also began creating gas-fueled ranges as early as the 1820s, but it was not until the 1880s that such devices became commonly available. Electric ovens first were experimented with in the late nineteenth century, and became an option for the consumer in the twentieth century.
All of these new appliances, from types of ranges and ovens, to the concept of electricity itself, are discussed in household reference works, often with illustrations. Advantages of various types of appliances are discussed, as are the most advantageous – and efficient – methods of laying out a room. The kitchen receives special attention in such guides – the idea of a built-in kitchen was not popular until the mid-twentieth century – with discussions of ventilation, light, and sanitation all part of the advice.