Museum Talk

Thursday, August 29, 2013
A French Washstand is on display at the BI Museum in Monette.

In the bedroom area of the Buffalo Island Museum is a French washstand, donated by Paul Baker. He bought the washstand when he was stationed in France while in the United States military over fifty years ago. When time allowed, he and his wife would tour the countryside. One day they stopped at a castle that was having a "yard sale". They bought this washstand and a French clock and candelabra set, and shipped them back home to the States. The wash stand is over one hundred years old and is in remarkable condition. It has been painted, but the marble top hasn't been altered in any way.

From the 1800s until well into the 1900s, the washstand was an essential piece of bedroom furniture in America. It would accommodate a basin, pitcher, toothbrush holder jar, and other toilet accessories. The French ones were usually topped with a special type of marble called St. Anne's as this marble resisted the alkali in soap. There was usually a chamber pot at the bottom. Water was heated on the kitchen stove and carried to the bedroom. The basin and pitcher was used for people to clean themselves in between their weekly bath, and were used until homes had indoor plumbing. Although a type of flush toilet was invented in 1596, plumbing systems didn't come into widespread use until the late 19th century.

The antique white porcelain basin and pitcher on the washstand was donated to the museum by Madge Armstrong. It was made by the McCoy Pottery Company, which is one of the more well-known pottery manufacturers. It was started by James W. McCoy in 1899 at Roseville, Ohio. In 1910, he and his son began the Nelson McCoy Sanitary and Stoneware Co. During the Depression era, the company joined with five other companies to survive the economic conditions. In 1933 the company became the Nelson McCoy Pottery Company. It was owned by four generations of McCoys until 1967 when it was sold. The McCoy trademark was finally discontinued in 2001.

Visit the museum and see some of the things our forefathers used. It makes us thankful for the conveniences we have today. Buffalo Island Museum is open on Friday and Saturday 12:30-4:00. Admission is free. Be sure to attend our annual quilt show on September 28. Everyone who enters a quilt

has their name in a prize drawing. Quilts of all ages and types are welcome.

The quilt show is free to enter and to attend. We had some unusual and beautiful quilts last year and are looking forward to this year's show. For more information see our Facebook page or call 496-5479 or 486-2516.

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