Rediscovering hair receivers and other doo-dads
June 4, 1997
Web posted at: 12:33 a.m. EDT (0033 GMT)
(CNN) -- Sure, you know how to surf the Internet, work a cell phone, and perhaps even program your VCR, but would you know what to do with a hair receiver, a cup plate or sewing birds? Today, those items are obsolete, but in Victorian times, they were part of daily life.
The Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland opens an exhibit Thursday called Victorian Doo-Dads, featuring dozens of such devices, from the clever (early kerosene lantern-lit slide projectors) to the prosaic (small plates for pats of butter).
Among the items on display is a hair receiver -- a container that held hair pulled from combs and brushes, which was then used to stuff pin cushions. A cup plate was a coaster, of sorts, where you would place your tea cup after you had poured the tea out -- people drank from saucers in those days. Sewing birds, called "the seamstresses' third hand," are little, metal bird replicas that held fabric taut in their beaks.
The Surratt House was a tavern where John Wilkes Booth stopped on the night he assassinated President Lincoln. It is believed to have been a safehouse in the Confederate underground network during the Civil War. Today, it is a museum dedicated to the history of mid-19th century southern Maryland.
Admission to the museum is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for children ages 5-18. For more information, call (301) 868-1121 or visit the museum's Web site (listed under "Related sites" below). The museum is 12 miles from Washington, D.C.
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