Friday, June 7, 2013

Collecting hot water bottles: Bathroom Wall Art

   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).
    When my collection was new, I displayed it stacked high on the back of my porcelain throne; however, it did have its drawbacks: only the top of the stack could be admired, you couldn't admire the collection once you were sitting down, and, due to their width, the toilet lid could not remain in the "up" position on its own. Finally I came up with the idea of hanging them on the wall by using small brass nails, which I've been doing for a few years now.
   So when you come to my house and need to sit on the throne, this is the view you'll get - not at all glamorous, but lots of fun to look at! Unless, of course you're like Kitty- then you can use the toilet at the top of the stairs, down the hall and to the left.


  1. Well, well, well my friend frog....I think you've outdone yourself. These little gems are truly unusual. The one at my folks' house was just plain reddish brown. Now the one up there with the hose isn't a hot water bottle in case you didn't know. Just sayin'. That one gives me the creeps, LOL.

    1. The one with the hose actually came in mint condition in the original box with all sorts of interesting accessories. I attached the accessory that would get the most attention, which is why Kitty hates my wall of weird - it creeps her out too! (but oh, how it makes me laugh!) :)

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  6. Anonymous friend #2- although I enjoy writing, photographing and posting about my collections, I'm afraid that I'm not creative enough to pull off a second post about hot water bottles (and keep most readers interested). I hand the baton off to YOU to keep it going (then let me know where I can read it!) Thanks for visiting!

  7. Congratulations for an unusual and excellent collection. Possibly of one the most famous hot water bottles ever, is featured being held by Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like it Hot". It's high time hot water bottles received their due reward for the warmth and comfort they have given to countless millions over the years, right across the world. An invention of pure genius.


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