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Re: [Authentic_SCA] Re: Ice chests/coolers

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  • julian wilson
    lilinah@earthlink.net wrote: Ice requires some sort of insulator. Perhaps straw or grasses? ... COMMENT Dear Listers, I don t know what it was like in 19th C
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 2, 2005
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      lilinah@... wrote:>Ice requires some sort of insulator. Perhaps straw or grasses?
      Dear Listers,
      I don't know what it was like in 19th C USA & Canada, - but in 19th C. England, country-House Staff used to send to London - ice, - fruits, fish, dairy-products, game, and other perishable things which needed to be kept at a stable temperature [higher or lower] - by using the excellent Railway Services of such Companies as the GWR, LNWR, LNER, Great Central Railway. Somerset & Dorset Railway, &c - in "hayboxes*", consigned via the trains' Guards' Vans, to be either "express delivered" or even collected from the London Termini by the Family Servants.. [NOTE - hay was cheaper than cork as an insulator, and readily-available in a largely-rural economy such as Victorian England. Cork had to be imported, - mainly from Spain.]

      In a book on English Country Houses, in chapters about the Cookery facilities and domestic equipment of the Victorian Era, - I've seen comments that - when "The Family" was at the London House "for the Season", - the country-house staff would daily send the Family Estate's fresh vegetables, fruits esp. strawberries, flowers, cream, milk, - "up" to the London House by the early-morning "fruit & veg Expresses" - all packed in hayboxes.
      I've seen a few surviving "hayboxes" on display in historic country-Houses now in the care of the National Trust, and English Heritage; - and what you have is a chest-within--a-chest [double-lidded as well] with the 3"[average] space between thickly padded with hay/straw.
      I don't know how efficient the hayboxes were, - but the fact that their use was so widespread as to have a goods' listing in all the Railways' "Goods Prices" suggests they were pretty-good insulated containers. The outer boards were about 5/8" thick, and dovetailed to form a strong chest; while the inner box was merely a lining of thin boards only 1/4" to 3/8" thick.
      Now, while what I have described is of Victorian date, the technology used dates back to the Romans.So, for SCAdians wanting to try making a mediæval "haybox" - I would hazzard a guess that "hayboxes" will be found listed and described in the preserved Victorian catalogues of such famous London Stores as Gamages, The Army & Navy Store [ who "supplied The Empire"], Selfridges, &c. Perhaps also in their US late-19th C counterparts' [such as Sear's] catalogues, as well?
      Another fruitful research area might well be the domestic literature of the mediæval Moorish World, and of the brilliant and 'liberal' Kingdoms of Sicily & Cyprus - [perhaps in the time of King Roger]. Those hot-climate mediæval States would surely have grappled-with- and found-solutions-to- this problem of keeping perishable things cool, - not being constrained by the Catholic Church's tradition of labelling any early "science" they didn't understand as "magic" and promptly banning it's use by Christians.

      Yours in service,
      Julian Wilson,
      [aka. Messire Matthew Baker/Matthieu Besquer, Governor & Castellan of Jersey, 1486-1497: - "Si vis pacem, para bellum"]
      late-medieval Re-enactor; & Historian and Master Artisan to
      "The Companie of the Duke's Leopards",
      [the only medieval living-history Group
      in "olde" Jersey]

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