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The Beginning of Small Furniture

Aug 17, 2007
Let us have a look at some of the furniture that we could still find some of them in the museums. Furniture such as the stools which dates back to the twelfth century, tea-tables dating back to the late seventeenth century, serving trays made of mahogany, wine-coolers, a receptacle for cooling wine, writing tables, window stools, and work tables.

Stools
Stools are shown in illuminated manuscripts dating back to the twelfth century, but none survive that are older than about 1500. Those of the seventeenth century are the oldest usually to be met with outside museums and stately homes, and are of the simple pattern called coffin stools, or more recently, joint stools. They are supported on turned legs, which splay outwards slightly and are united by plain stretchers, the tops usually having a molded edge. The majorities are of oak, and their sturdy dowelled construction has kept them intact for three centuries.

With the Carolean tall-back chairs came stools with carving to match the cresting and legs of the chair, and upholstery that replaced the hard wooden seat used previously.

Most of the stools made in the eighteenth century, whether in walnut or mahogany, follow the styles in fashion for chairs: from the cabriole leg with ball-and-claw or lion's-paw foot to the variety seen in Chippendale's Director.

In past years stools have received attention from furniture fakers, and many have been made from chairs; equally, the process has been reversed and stools have been transformed on occasion into chairs. The underneath framework will usually show what has happened if it is given a very thorough examination.

Tea Tables
Portable tables for holding tea-ware came into use with the introduction of the beverage late in the seventeenth century. The most familiar are the circular-topped mahogany examples made between 1740 and 1780, supported on tripod bases. These were often carved elaborately, and some had tops with shaped and molded edges, known as 'pie-crust' from the slight resemblance they bear to that pastry. Tables of folding-top card-table type, but with the insides of the tops polished were used also for serving tea.

Trays
Eighteenth-century wooden serving trays were made in mahogany and other woods; inlaid oval examples in the Sheraton style replacing mahogany ones with pierced or brass-bound rims.

Whatnots
Square tiers of open shelves, four or five in number, with corner supports and, usually, a drawer in the base, used for holding ornaments or books, etc. They were made principally in mahogany or rosewood from about 1800.

Wine Coolers and Cellarets
A wine cooler is a receptacle for cooling wine, a cellaret for storing a few bottles of it. The essential difference is that a cellaret usually has a cover and the cooler has not. They both came into use about 1730, and were introduced late in the eighteenth century. Many have a silk-covered hanging bag, and the top is sometimes inlaid with squares for chess. Many were elaborately made and highly finished with painting and inlay.

Writing Tables
There is confusion between writing tables and desks, but the latter are generally those with made of mahogany with a lead lining. Some were inlaid elaborately or mounted in cast gilt metal, but the majorities were bound with plain bands of brass.

Window Seats
Towards the end of the eighteenth century there was a fashion for wide stools with upturned ends, and these were then called window stools. Hepplewhite shows designs for them in 1788, and they were made in mahogany and in gilt wood.

Work Tables
A small table with a hinged top concealing spaces for sewing accessories, which was tiers of drawers to the ground, whereas a writing table is on tall legs. These were made throughout the eighteenth century, but became more popular towards the end of the period. About 1790, the Carlton House type was introduced; this has rounded ends at the back with low tiers of drawers facing the writer. Not a great number would seem to have been made, and surviving old examples are very rare. Mostly they are of mahogany, but a few are known in satinwood. Copies have been made since about 1900, and these may deceive the unwary.

Most of this furniture were made of the mahogany and gilt wood. There were some decorations on these types of furniture but are not usually significant. Some of this furniture were inlaid elaborately or mounted in cast gilt metal, but the majorities were bound with plain bands of brass.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.kitchen-plans-n-designs.com/ , http://www.comforterguide.info/ , http://www.comfortermadeeasy.info/
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