Featured Object

In each issue, the bimonthly DAR magazine, American Spirit, highlights an object from the DAR Museum collection in its "National Treasures" feature. These objects, often recent accessions or important pieces in the current exhibit, always have a story to tell about American history.

National Treasures

Strange Brew

This strange-looking device is a siphon coffeemaker made in England between 1865 and 1875. Scottish marine engineer Robert Napier (1791—1876) is credited with inventing this type of coffeemaker in 1840. To use the device, one added ground coffee and boiling water to the glass vessel, then poured a small amount of boiling water into the porcelain vessel. Lighting the burner below the porcelain vessel created a vacuum that siphoned the water into the glass vessel containing the steeped coffee. Once the porcelain vessel emptied, a counterweight raised it above the reach of the flame, which was then extinguished. Another vacuum siphoned the coffee back into the porcelain vessel, almost as if it were riding a see-saw. The spigot dispensed coffee. These coffeemakers are still made today; watch a video of one in action by searching on YouTube.

This object, along with many other technical devices, can be seen in the upcoming DAR Museum exhibition “Creating the Ideal Home, 1800—1939: Comfort and Convenience in America,” which opens October 4, 2013, and runs through August 30, 2014.

More National Treasures

Sitting Pretty

To the Rescue

Tayloe Family Ties

Ornamental Trio

Reviving the Stone

A Record to Remember

Strong Set

Fashion Flashback

Let's Go Ride a Bike


Isn't It Romantic

A Rockin' Good Toy

The Mystery of Mother and Child

Keep Cool

Dress for the Ages

Historical Register

Banjo Time

Getting Warmer

Virginia Map Quest

Serve It Up

Greatest Toy on Earth

Dress for the Day

Boston Uncommon

A Teapot to Revere

Seats of Honor

Birthday Threads


Play On

Top Drawer

Burning Bright

Seated in Revolution

Something to Crow About

Sister Stitch

Tea Time

Capturing Cherubs

A Link to the Past

Brushes with Fame

Something Borrowed

Supper Is Served

Stately Seats

Heirloom High Chest

Making Beautiful Music

Forged From Fire

For Madame's Trousseau

Let It Out

Heavenly Harmonies

Priceless Pooch

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