When central heating was not available, besides stove and fireplace, another heating item was used in ancient times: the warmer (or brazier).
It was a container in metal, terracotta or ceramic filled with embers and warm ash used as personal heating support and bed warming.
The female custom of holdong the warmer next to the body or under the garment is the origin of the popular Dutch belief that women could be made pregnant simply by holding the warmer on their womb.
A similar belief was present also in Tuscany, but in this case the responsible party was a winged pretty airy fairy (folletto) who introduced itself into the body of the woman and she was made pregnant

silver warmer of circular shape standing on a plain feet, body gadrooned and with large floral band, pierced lid and bud finial

In Italy, the silver warmer was of oval or circular shape with pierced lid for a better diffusion of the warmth (the holes were called 'sfiatatoi'), wood or metal feet, elaborate scroll handle with a wood or ivory support on the centre.

The 18th and the 19th century production of silver warmers attained a high artistic level, with models which followed step by step the taste and the stylistic evolution of their time (ornamentation with flowers, leaves, masks, geometric bands, gadroons, beadworks ...).
This item was a typical artifact produced by the most renowned silversmiths throughout Italy (Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan) (see below)

silver warmer of circular shape, standing on four paw feet, gadrooned embossed body, pierced lid with floral motif, double scroll handle silver warmer of oval shape, standing on four paw feet, pierced lid with floral motifs

silver bed warmer of circular shape with ebonized turned wood handle, large chiselled band on the body and on the lid silver warmer of oval shape, standing on four ball and foliate feet, pierced on the body and on the lid, scroll handle,

famille-rose 19th century enamel porcelain warmer

The warmers had a metal liner to avoid the direct contact of the live coal with the external surface. The ceramic warmers were painted on the sides and on the lid with rich floral decorations, scenes of daily life or landscapes.


'famille-rose' ceramic warmer
(19th century)


A particular item was the bed-warmer. It had a turned wood handle and, in Italy, was inserted into an appropriate support to avoid damage to blankets.


turned wood handle Victorian bed warmer
bed warmer support


Victorian bed-warmer with long wood handle and the support used in Italy to protect the blankets

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