Tuesday, August 8, 2023

The Pleasures of Devices

Devices and conveniences of various sorts are on my mind at the moment. My washing machine of 33 years finally died, and I am told by our mechanic that our car is terminal. My daughter-in-law is breaking in a new laptop. My husband had to replace his cell phone. We live in a world of conveniences. Our nineteenth century counterparts might be jealous.

Or not.

The Regency era saw the birth of the Industrial Revolution, but it would be some years before the new technological wonders appeared in the homes of the middle and lower class. Here are a few things we might take for granted today that they didn’t have:

Ovens. It is amazing to think, but ovens in homes were very high end in Regency England. Only a few wealthy houses had them. For the rest of us, you baked in the hearth or had a baker cook everything from bread to your Christmas turkey. You picked up the food from the baker and brought it home (and I can only wonder how warm it was by then!).

Sewing machines. I can sew basic patterns, well enough to make myself pillow shams and clothing. Marissa is more skilled. But while the first sewing machine was patented in England around 1790, it was never built, and the first widely available sewing machines wouldn’t arrive until the 1870s. Generally, a Regency lady sewed what she wanted by hand herself or employed someone to do it for her.

Shavers. My husband uses a disposable razor, and my father used an electric one. Our Regency gentlemen had only a strap and a long wicked blade. Small wonder so many wore beards!

Public transportation. The more my car grumbles, the more I eye our local bus. I’ve also used busses, trams, and trains to get around my neck of the world. Londoners didn’t have the option of public transportation until 1829, when horse-drawn omnibuses began trundling through the streets.

So, despite my current woes, I’m very thankful indeed! May all your devices be well behaved and useful!

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