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Washstand from the steamboat Hiawatha. Circa 1900. Wood, pine [Vernacular style] Acc. No.

Wash basinDescription: Corner shaped piece with three plain legs, two shelves, the top one with a hole cut in it to hold a basin, and a low gallery along the two sides.

Discussion: The steamboat Hiawatha exhibit in the Museum Main Gallery is a recreation of the two top decks of the original boat. This washstand was salvaged from that original and placed in its correct place in the recreated passenger cabin. Washstands, with accompanying basin and pitcher, were a very common and often very utilitarian category of domestic furnishing in Victorian times. Like everything Victorian though, these sets came in highly elaborate styles as well. Here, in a vehicle intended for public transportation, only the most basic and least expensive version would have been considered suitable.


Ketchum, William C. Furniture: Chests, Cupboards, Desks & Other Pieces (The Knopf
Collectors' Guides to American Antiques). New York: Knopf, 1982. (See pp. 15–17)