As well as collecting this and that on our travels there are things about the house from my childhood or that we got in the course of day to day life.
I remember this from my mother’s kitchen. There was big tin of flour on a shelf in one of the lower kitchen cupboards and along with it sat this flour sifter. For some reason when I closed up my mother’s home back in 1996 it was one of the few things I kept.
Though I have used it frequently to this day I have never really paid much attention to it. Obviously tin, otherwise it would not be quite as battered and bruised as it is, it still works and does what it is suppose to do. I know that modern flours don’t need sifting however I still find its a good way to incorporate salt, baking powder and spice into a flour mixture. And it may be my imagination but sifted flour folds into liquid easily with fewer lumps.
Last week when I was making banana bread I, probably for the first time, read the embossing: BROMWELL’S ServicE PAT. No 1,753,995. So who or what was Bromwell’s and when was the patent issued. Well it turns out that Bromwell was a person and his company is still in existence.
In 1819 Jacob Bromwell, a veteran of the War of 1812, moved his wire goods manufacturing operation from Baltimore to Cincinnati. He set up his business providing household products to the pioneering families heading westward. The 3 cup flour sifter was one of the more popular productions amongst the 1000 items in their catalogue.
The company continued to manufacture household goods for the next two hundred years and in 1930. Patent #1,753,995 was issued by the US Patent Office for their flour sifter. To this day it is lauded for it’s simplicity: only one moving part, easily cleaned, and it requires neither electricity nor batteries.
Bromwell’s produced items in copper, brass, tin, and steel and as well as the flour sifter produced the box grater, the first popcorn popper, and the iconic tin prison cup. There is a certain twisted irony there as according to Google much of their manufacturing was done in prison workshops using convict labour.
From what I can gather the ServicE brand was their cheaper line and the flour sifter was made in tin up until the 1950s. I have no idea how old mine is but given that I remember “helping” in the kitchen by sifting the flour when I was a child I’m guessing sometime in the 40s if not earlier. Bromwell’s is still making them but now they are a high end product in stainless steel selling for $100.00 USD, when they are available.
The word for August 3rd is:
Flour /ˈflou(ə)r/: [1. noun 2. verb]
1. A powder obtained by grinding grain, typically wheat, and used to make bread, cakes, and pastry.
2. To sprinkle (something, especially a work surface or cooking utensil) with a thin layer of flour.
Middle English: a specific use of flower in the sense ‘the best part’, used originally to mean ‘the finest quality of ground wheat’. The spelling flower remained in use alongside flour until the early 19th century.