It is interesting how people have different interpretations of what they see in museums, and how an unknown item can create real excitement! The feeder, which can be best described as a baby feeding bottle, is one such items; it conjures up different ideas, and gets people excited about learning something new.
However, no-one is able to correctly guess what the bottle was actually used for. The Bergtheil Museum has three such bottles on display, which were all manufactured in England. Manufacturers of the bottle referred to it as a ‘feeder’. Each time visitors are taken around the kitchen exhibition, they can’t help but notice this artefact. It is amazing to see the expression on pupils’ faces when they come across the bottle; they burst into laughter and wonder what this bottle could possibly have been used for! Most of them think of a banana when they see it, but are also eager to find out what it’s purpose was. When one explains that the bottle was used to feed babies, they respond with disbelief and try to figure out how it actually worked.
The bottle originally came with a rubber teat to assist with baby feeding. The bottle is double ended and worked by fitting the teat on one end while the other end remained open for pouring the formula. Its origins can be traced back to the late 1880s.
In the kitchen exhibition of Bergtheil Museum, the three feeders are displayed with a box for one of them providing information about how the bottles would have originally been used.
This article was written by Durban Local History Museums’ Museum Officer, Ayanda Ngcobo