National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Bed Warming Pan Bed Warming Pan
Rendered by V.L. Vance (artist), c. 1941
watercolor and graphite on paperboard
overall: 44.8 x 33.6 cm (17 5/8 x 13 1/4 in.) Original IAD Object: 11 1/4" in diameter; 3 1/8" deep
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Metalwork from the Index of American Design
Object 10 of 17

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc that was popular with early artisans for making a variety of household articles. Brass is hard yet malleable and will take a high polish. Because of the bright, golden beauty of this metal, articles such as andirons, candlesticks, and other accessories were made of brass for fine drawing rooms. This brass warming pan was used to warm cold bedsheets on a wintry night. Bedwarmers were a practical necessity in cold climates until modern heating systems came into existence. This bedwarmer was constructed with a hinged lid covering a pan several inches deep into which hot coals were usually placed. Holes perforated in the lid allowed smoke to escape. Wooden handles, often several feet long, were attached to eighteenth-century warming pans like this one. This pan was cast from a sand mold. The rims of the lid and the base were reinforced with wire to strengthen the edges and to provide a neat appearance. After the pan was cast, it was polished by hand to achieve a bright shine. The lid decoration was embossed, a process done by hammer and chisel. The pattern of wavy lines, the flowers, and the rooster lend a folk art quality to the design.

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