Georgian, Regency, and Victorian England conjure images of unparalleled sumptuous by-gone eras. Through such romantic lens, it is easy to forget the every day, un-elegance of living in the horse and carriage days, when cleanliness was not so easy to maintain as it is in modern Western living.
Before automobiles, asphalt, and street sweepers, trodding the streets and roadways got one dirty—especially one’s shoes. To protect a home from the mud and other undesirable matter found on streets, those who lived in those days used a book scraper. Next to the front door, this study piece of metal provided a way to clean off the soles of boots and shoes before entering a dwelling.
A subtle reminder of that practice years ago, the book scraper still maintains its place in the historic buildings all over England. I find it charming, and a bit humorous, that such a humble artifact still exists next to even the grandest entrances, reminding one to wipe one’s shoes before entering.