Brass and copper were popular, some plain and some decorative. Embers from the fire would be put into the pans and carried to the bed to be placed between the covers. The wealthy might have silver or even gold ones. As a young homemaker, I had a wall planter that looked like a bedwarmer, though I had no idea at the time what its purpose had been.
Here are instructions on its use: A copper warming pan is indispensable to a household. Take care to have a big enough quantity of embers, above all some red cinders, when you want to heat a bed. Get it smouldering well before you use it, otherwise the fire will soon go out and the bed will not warm up. You must move the warming pan constantly to avoid scorching the sheets. A bed-wagon (moine), well-known and inexpensive, is a suitable alternative. Cora Millet-Robinet, Domestic Economy, 1853 (translated loosely from the French)
Another type used was pottery or ceramic jars or bottles filled with boiling water.
And then there were the bed wagons which was an odd odd-looking contraption as you can see in this image. The wood strips and rods were tied together to form a frame that was both light and strong. A pan was loaded with embers then placed on a sheet-iron tray inside the frame. It worked well with little danger of burning the bed.
In the South, during the days before the Civil war, many plantation owners used young slaves to warm their beds. One such young girl named Jasmine was bought and carried to the Three Spring Plantation near Dalton, Georgia to warm the master’s bed, but she swears she’ll kill him dead afore he even touches her. You can read about her story in my novel THE BEDWARMER’S SON.
This poignant tale debuts this month on the 26th, but is available now for pre-order. Enjoy this excerpt:
The old lady pointed her paring knife right at Jasmine’s nose. “You be careful, child. Don’t go getting uppity on me now. Mister William’s been heartsick ever since Miss Coreena and her sweet baby girl passed.”
“Yes, ma’am. I understands. Why, can’t stand them folks what don’t know they’s place.”
“Good.” Footfalls turned the old lady’s attention to the stairs, then quickly back, she reached across and grabbed Jasmine’s arm. “When he does go to messing with you, promise old Mammy you tell me all about it. Gots me a secret ta help ya out.”
She nodded, but him messing with her weren’t going to happen. No matter how nice he be. She might just figure out a way to take off on that horse of his. Might not have to get wet in the creek after all when she run. She be dressed in these fancy clothes and have Old Tom’s note, them bounty hunters won’t mess none with her even if she did come across one.
And here’s a bit from its first review : The BED WARMER’S SON is one of Caryl McAdoo’s finest books. Mrs. McAdoo has done her research and produced a book spotlighting lies and truth [with] characters well developed and multi-dimensional. The story line kept me on the edge of my seat. The author’s word weaving skills warm the story with delicious southern vernacular and cultural traditions. [Including] the gospel message of mercy, grace, and hope, she in no way crossed the divide into preaching. THE BED WARMER’S SON is no exception, but is perhaps the best of her best.
GIVEAWAY: I'd like to bless one commenter with the gift of their choice of The Bedwarmer's Son in print or e'book.
BIO: Caryl McAdoo loves God, and currently writes four series: the historical Christian ‘Texas Romance’ a family saga; a contemporary ‘Red River Romance’; The Generations, her Biblical fiction, and the newest Days of Dread Trilogy for mid-grade readers. Known as the “Singing Pray-er”, she loves praising with new songs the Lord gives her and prays her story gives God glory! Besides glorifying Him, she hopes each title also ministers His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. The McAdoos live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State with two grandsons.
In years following, the hot water bottles made of rubber were used to warm beds. This tickled me and I hope it makes you smile, too. :)