Ale Warmer or Ale Muller
Materials: Sheet iron, tin plated.
Dimensions: Max height 30 cm (12 inches); max width of cone 12 cm (4.75 inches).
Place of Origin: Worcester, UK.
Date: Appx second quarter of the 20th century.
Maker/retailer: George H. Elt.
Present Location: Private Collection.
Ale was a relatively strong alcoholic beverage and was often warmed with the addition of spices to increase flavour. Most conical ale warmers of this type date from the 19th or rarely the 18th century and almost all are made of tinned copper although brass examples are known. This example is made of tinplate i.e. sheet iron which has been plated with tin to prevent rusting or the leaching of toxins from the metal (although tin itself has toxic properties). Once filled with ale, the pointed end of the cone would be placed into the coals of the fire until the ale was sufficiently warm.
This example, unusual in being tinplate, was manufactured by a company which did not come into existence until 1919. Thus an article which was in common use in the Georgian and Victorian periods is found to be still manufactured in the early 20th century; a warning perhaps that dating metal objects is not as simple as it appears. American examples are known in tinplate (De Voe, 1981) but marked British examples are rare.
Deeley, R., 2011. The Cauldron, the Spit and the Fire. Golden Cockerel Books. ISBN 9780947870737
De Voe, Shirley Spalding, 1981. The Art of the Tinsmith: English and American. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0196838595
Hornsby, P., 1989. Collecting Antique Copper and Brass. Moorland Publishing Co. ISBN 0861901185
Lindsay, J. Seymour., 1927. Iron and Brass Implements of the English House. Medici Society. Revised Edn. 1970, Alec Tiranti. ISBN 085458999/6