When I was in third grade, in the 1960’s, I noticed that my teacher would open and close windows in peculiar ways during the warm part of the year. The early 20th century building had nice high ceilings with windows that went from the radiators up to nearly the top. Every afternoon, she would open the normal bottom sash about a foot, and then used a special pole to pull down the top sash by a foot. In the mornings, she would close them to keep the cool air in.
A few years later I got a vintage high school text book at a yard sale in which they suggest that the best way to cool off a room at night was to open the top and bottom sashes to let the cool air in below and flush the warm air out above. That made sense. But most people are not even aware that top sashes can move. Before that school year, I was one of them!
When I moved into an 1890’s home with 10 foot plus ceilings, I decided to vent the bathroom by opening the upper sash for much of the year. For many years, I would reach up over the top of the closed lower sash and push on the lower part of the upper sash vigorously with my crooked fingertips to open it a crack. Closing was much easier, using a broom stick or any convenient 3′ or longer rigid object.
But as opening was not a trivial task, the window often stayed open a few inches from warm-enough in the spring till getting-too-cool in the fall, with occasional shuts for really hot days. Not the most energy efficient air management.
Finally, I decided enough was enough, and went online shopping for a proper vintage sash lifter; today’s Object at Hand. A vintage cast iron pole tip was not hard to find, and the metal inserts to allow me to pull the upper sash from the top is still in production! So armed with these parts, I needed only to buy a pole. Fortunately, a 1″ diameter hardwood dowel at four feet length was conveniently available at a big box hardware chain store.
Then I drilled a hole in the old sash for the insert, mounted the puller on the pole. Now either I or my petite spouse can easily take the pole from where it hangs at the side of the window and pull open or push closed the sash at whim.
So here is how it looks in use on our 119 year old window. On the left, hanging on the old roller shade holder. On the right, in use, with a detail of how it fits in the socket.