Tag Archives: Wacky Wednesday

Wacky Wednesday: Fire Extinguisher Hand Grenades

Many bloggers use the Geneabloggers Daily Blogging Prompts to help them with ideas for what to post on a given day. There’s Black Sheep Sunday, Maritime Monday, Tombstone Tuesday, etc.

This, however, isn’t an official blogging prompt – I’m making it up right now. I’m calling this Wacky Wednesday because I’m posting something that is wacky, and not actually genealogy related, but something I discovered while researching in the NY City Archives last year. If you find something wacky while researching your family, feel free to post it as Wacky Wednesday as well.

I was researching my gg-grandfather who lived in New York City at the turn of the last century. In the city archives they have city directories which are unfortunately falling apart. I hope other copies of these directories exist somewhere, because the copies in the NY City Archives are not particularly good copies. In any case, while looking up my gg-grandfather, I came across the following advertisement in the 1890 NY City Directory for The Hayward Hand Grenade Fire Extinguisher:
In case you think this was some kind of random ad, apparently fire extinguisher hand grenades were fairly common back then and many companies manufactured them. The grenades were actually glass bottles filled with salt water (and later toxic chemicals) that you would throw towards the base of a fire, breaking the glass, and allowing the liquid to hopefully put out the fire. 
A quick look on eBay shows several vintage glass fire extinguisher grenades for sale, for a few hundred dollars each. One collector is selling a Hayward Hand Grenade made from cobalt blue glass:
Cobalt Blue Hayward Hand Grenade Fire Extinguisher  (eBay)
The same collector has many other glass grenades in his collection:
More glass fire extinguisher hand grenades (eBay)
A glass collector named Ferdinand Meyer has written up a good summary of the background of these interesting artifacts from a glass collector’s point of view – with a collection of photos of many of the grenades from different companies (including Hayward). One photo he displays is from another site that sells antique bottles, and shows a yellow glass bottle that largely matches the image in the advertisement:
Yellow Hayward Hand Grenade Fire Extinguisher (GreatAntiqueBottles.com)
That particular bottle is for sale for $390.
So that’s the wacky thing I found while researching my family in the NY City Archives. What wacky things have you found when you were looking for information on your family?