logo - Join me in the 1900s mid C20th
The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Alternatives to plastics
in old kitchen tools

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This group of pages is about tools that used to be used in ordinary working class households for preparing and cooking food. Tools on display in many museums and National Trust properties are often those which servants would have used for large scale catering, but would not have found a place in ordinary households.

It isn't possible to put an accurate date on the tools on these pages because change happened at different rates in different households, according to how tied they were to the old ways and how quickly new technology was arriving. When I grew up in the 1940s and early 1950s my mother was still using kitchen tools that her mother had used in the early 1900s. Some actually came from her mother, and some were bought new, although were essentially identical in design. So I have good recollections of everyday kitchen tools, as used in ordinary working class households in the first part of the 20th century. It is likely that similar tools were used in the previous century and even before.

It is worth pointing out that these tools come from a time when there were no plastics readily available (other than Bakelite, an early very rigid plastic that chipped all too easily), no man-made fibres, no stainless steel and no non-stick coatings. So all the tools were made from one or more of the following:

Galvanised iron - not really tin

galvanised iron

Galvanised iron showing its typically blotchy appearance.

Galvanisation is a process that stops iron and steel from rusting. Somewhat surprisingly the result is widely and wrongly known as tin - hence the tin baths that were kept outside in all weathers and were filled with water when in use. There were and still are many more examples. The photo is of part of a modern galvanised lamp post.

Galvanised iron is made by dipping the iron into hot zinc. The size of the blotches depends on how quickly the cooling takes place.

Galvanised iron has a typically blotchy appearance as shown in the picture.

Because of the development of plastics, fewer objects are galvanised today, but in the past it was common - see for example the goods in a typical old hardware shop.

Other natural materials were used for decorative purposes, but seldom in food preparation.

The tools on this group of pages - see the side menu - are only those which are either seldom seen today or are seen only in plastic or with plastic parts. Tools which are timeless are not included.

If you can add anything to this page, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.