During the 1930s, the tobacco company W.D and H.O.Wills gave away colourful and entertaining collectors ‘cigarette trade cards’ in packets of their cigarettes. ‘Household hints’ was issued several times, in slightly different editions from 1930 to 1939. Some of the ideas look antiquated and redundant but occasionally there are forgotten gems that are pertinent today. I am sharing this series as a historical glimpse into yesterday’s home maintenance and the occasional addition to solutions for the modern home.
“Worm havoc in furniture is mostly caused by the larvae or grubs of the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum). As the beetle lays its eggs chiefly in May or June,the treatment of the furniture with paraffin or turpentine, at regular intervals, and at this time of year particularly, will greatly help in rendering articles immune. Special attention should be given to the back and undersides of the furniture, especially joints and unpolished parts. when the furniture is already infected, the grubs activity is indicated by fresh holes, sometimes with powder falling from them. \in such cases, benzene or carbon tetrachloride may be injected into the holes, as shown. These inflammable liquids should be handled carefully.”
Wood worm won’t make your furniture crumble before your eyes. They are slow acting insects and can sometimes be detected by small piles of sawdust (actually its frass; insect poo) underneath the furniture. The larvae like a damp atmosphere, so once hatched, will leave for good. Spike Milligan wrote a poem in 1954 about a domestic situation.
Tell me little woodworm
Eating through the wood.
Surely all that sawdust
Can’t do you any good.
Heavens! Little woodworm
You’ve eaten all the chairs
So that’s why poor old Grandad’s
Sitting outside on the stairs.