You might find this hard to believe but sometimes I am drawn to collect things that some folks might find a bit…well, peculiar. Not only do I enjoy collecting these oddities, but I enjoy taking it to the next level and decorating my home with them. My collection of vintage hot water bottles is such a collection and my guest bathroom is just the place where this unconventional collection proudly hangs on display.
I guess these old rubber vessels first caught my eye back when my husband and I were stationed at Camp Pendleton and discovered the joy of antiquing with fellow Marine Corps friends, Bo & Deb.
I became enamered with the darling child-sized hot water bottles because of the nursery rhymes, numbers, alphabet, and various animal shapes that were embossed on them.
After a while, I began to notice the larger sizes which came in various shapes, colors, intricate details, beautiful patterns and distinguishing marks such as the “B.F. Goodrich No. 35” – who knew that the famous tire company also made hot water bottles? Among manufacturers producing these water bottles were Davol, Rexall, Symbol, Ajax and Faultless.
My friend Patrice, who lives in northern Virginia is of Irish decent. She told me that “her people” still use hot water bottles to warm up their beds at night when the weather is chilly and also to lay them at their feet to keep their footsies warm – such a great idea! At my house they’re only used after a tough day of yard work or high school track conditioning when there are aches and pains in need of relief.
Unfortunately the rubber in these old water bottles crack and discolor with age, so finding them in decent shape is quite a challenge. Most of the bottles in my collection are not in usable condition – but they still look great on the wall, unless you ask my cousin Kitty who still can’t believe I would ever put such things on my walls!
The best part of collecting something fairly unpopular with the masses is that the price is usually affordable – even at an antique shop. I can usually find a large hot water bottle for about $5 – $10 and a child-sized bottle anywhere between $5 -$30 (the smaller ones are a bit pricier because they’re more difficult to find).
I hang them on the wall with little brass nails and this is the view that you see while sitting on the throne – not at all glamorous, but lots of fun to look at. Unless, of course you’re like Kitty- then you can use the john at the top of the stairs, down the hall and to the left.