The children of Mary Jo Brooks, who was Dr, Physick's heir, have given us a wonderful group of Dr. P's belongings over the years. Among them is a silver-plate egg warmer in the shape of an egg.
Victorians loved specialized serving dishes. Majolica asparagus servers in the shape of asparagus spears, oyster dishes in the shape of oyster shells, cheese domes in the shape of a wedge of cheese with an attendant mouse, and this, an egg warmer in the shape of an egg. The eggs would be hard-or-soft cooked, then placed in a rack inside the server, with water in the bottom of the well. A tiny alcohol burner would keep the water and the eggs warm through a breakfast.
As you may remember from Victorian and Edwardian period television shows and English murder mysteries, while dinner was an elaborate affair with waiters and courses, breakfast was always served as a buffet meal in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This allowed house guests who were up late carousing to come down to breakfast when they wanted. They could also choose to eat whatever suited their hangovers. While Dr. Physick seems to have led a very moderate and sober life, the tradition of buffet breakfasts probably extended to this house, as well.
Elan Zingman-Leith is a former curator and board member at MAC. He is an accomplished artist and he and his wife, Susan, own Leith Hall Bed & Breakfast on Ocean Street.