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Furniture Of The Olden Time | by Frances Clary Morse



The furniture of the American colonies was at first of English manufacture, but before long cabinet-makers and joiners plied their trade in New England, and much of the furniture now found there was made by the colonists. In New Amsterdam, naturally, a different style prevailed, and the furniture was Dutch. As time went on and the first hardships were surmounted, money became more plentiful, until by the last half of the seventeenth century much fine furniture was imported from England and Holland, and from that time fashions in America were but a few months behind those in England.

TitleFurniture Of The Olden Time
AuthorFrances Clary Morse
PublisherThe Macmillan Company
Year1917
Copyright1917, The Macmillan Company
AmazonFurniture of the Olden Time

New Edition With a New Chapter and Many New Illustrations

"How much more agreeable it is to sit in the midst of old furniture like Minott's clock, and secretary and looking-glass, which have come down from other generations, than amid that which was just brought from the cabinetmaker's, smelling of varnish, like a coffin ! To sit under the face of an old clock that has been ticking one hundred and fifty years - there is something mortal, not to say immortal, about it; a clock that begun to tick when Massachusetts was a province." H. D. Thoreau, "Autumn."

Furniture Of The Olden Time 1
-Introduction
THE furniture of the American colonies was at first of English manufacture, but before long cabinet-makers and joiners plied their trade in New England, and much of the furniture now found there was m...
-Introduction. Continued
Robert and James Adam were architects, trained in the classics. Their furniture was distinctly classical, and was designed for rooms in the Greek or Roman style. Noted painters assisted them in decora...
-Chapter I. Chests, Chests Of Drawers, And Dressing-Tables
The chest was a most important piece of furniture in households of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It served as table, seat, or trunk, besides its accepted purpose to hold valuables of vari...
-Chests, Chests Of Drawers, And Dressing-Tables. Part 2
The oak chest of drawers in Illustration 9 is owned by E. R. Lemon, Esq., of the Wayside Inn, Sudbury. It has four drawers, and the decoration is simply panelling. The feet are the large balls which w...
-Chests, Chests Of Drawers, And Dressing-Tables. Part 3
High chests, both six-legged and bandy-legged, with their dressing-tables were sometimes decorated with the lacquering which was so fashionable during the first part of the eighteenth century. Illust...
-Chests, Chests Of Drawers, And Dressing-Tables. Part 4
But the old chest won't sarve her gran'son's wife, (For'thout new furnitoor what good in life ?) An' so old claw foot, from the precinks dread O' the spare chamber, slinks into the shed, Where, dim w...
-Chapter II. Bureaus And Washstands
THE word bureau is now used to designate low chests of drawers. Chippendale called such pieces commode tables or commode bureau tables. As desks with slanting lids for a long period during the e...
-Bureaus And Washstands. Part 2
Looking-glasses made to swing in a frame are mentioned in inventories of 1750, and about that date may be given to the dressing-glass with drawers, shown in Illustration 36. It was owned by Lucy Fluck...
-Bureaus And Washstands. Part 3
The charming little basin or wig stand in Illustration 45 is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The wood is mahogany and the feet are a flattened type of claw and ball, giving the little stand, with i...
-Chapter III. Bedsteads
ONE of the most valuable pieces of furniture in the household of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the bedstead with its belongings. Bedsteads and beds occupy a large space in inventories, ...
-Bedsteads. Continued
Illustration 58 shows a bedstead made from one of Hepplewhite's designs, about 1789. The lower posts are slender and fluted, and end in a square foot. The cornice is japanned after the fashion which H...
-Chapter IV. Cupboards And Sideboards
CUPBOARDS appear in English inventories as early as 1344. Persons of rank in England had their cupboards surmounted by a set of shelves to display the silver and gold plate. Each shelf was narrower ...
-Cupboards And Sideboards. Part 2
While the New England inventories speak of cupboards, the word kas, or kasse, appears in Dutch inventories in New York. The kas was the Dutch cupboard, and was different in style from the cupboard in ...
-Cupboards And Sideboards. Part 3
The Sally came to Wiscasset, Maine, and the story told down East is that there was a plot to rescue Marie Antoinette, and the Sally was laden for that purpose; and that a house had been built in a M...
-Cupboards And Sideboards. Part 4
Illustration 80 shows a Hepplewhite sideboard with a serpentine front, the doors to the side cupboards being concave, as well as the space usually occupied by bottle drawers, while the small cupboard ...
-Cupboards And Sideboards. Part 5
Illustration 86 shows the latest type of a Sheraton sideboard, owned by the Colonial Dames of Pennsylvania, and now in Stenton, the house built in 1727 by James Logan, William Penn's secretary. ...
-Chapter V. Desks
FROM 1644 to about 1670 desks appear in colonial inventories. During those years the word desk meant a box, which was often made with a sloping lid for convenience in writing, or to rest a bo...
-Desks. Part 2
A style of desk of a somewhat later date is occasionally found, generally made of maple. Its form and proportions are similar to those of a low-boy with the Dutch bandy-leg and foot, and a desk top, t...
-Desks. Part 3
The middle compartment in the desk, between the pigeonholes, has a door, behind which is a large drawer. When this drawer is pulled entirely out, at its back may be seen small drawers, and upon taking...
-Desks. Part 4
Illustration 107 shows a desk with cabinet top and serpentine or ox-bow front. It is made of English walnut of a fine golden hue which has never been stained or darkened. The doors are of panelled woo...
-Desks. Part 5
After the publication of the designs of Shearer, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton, the heavy desks were superseded by those of lighter design, and the slant-top bureau desk was seldom made after 1790. Sherat...
-Chapter VI. Chairs
CHAIRS are seldom mentioned in the earliest colonial inventories, and few were in use in either England or America at that time. Forms and stools were used for seats in the sixteenth and early seven...
-Chairs. Part 2
A chair of some later date, about 1680, is shown in Illustration 127, also from the Waters collection, the back and seat of which were originally of Turkey work. The frame is similar to that in Illust...
-Chairs. Part 3
Two banister-back chairs owned by the writer are shown in Illustration 139 and Illustration 140. It will be seen that the tops and one carved under-brace are similar to those upon cane chairs, while t...
-Chairs. Part 4
Windsor chairs are found in several styles, two of which are shown in Illustration 146, owned by the writer. Side-chairs like the arm-chair were made with the dividing strip which connects the arms le...
-Chairs. Part 5
Illustration 158 shows an easy-chair with the Dutch bandy leg and foot, owned by the writer. Such chairs were inventoried very high, from one pound to ten, and when one considers the amount of materia...
-Chairs. Part 6
The finest type of roundabout chair is shown in Illustration 169. It is of mahogany and has but one cabriole leg, the others being uncompromisingly straight, but the cabriole leg, and the top rail and...
-Chairs. Part 7
The chair in Illustration 181 is also in Mr. Gilbert's collection. Although the shield back is generally accredited to Hepplewhite, Adam made it before him and it was used by the other chair-makers of...
-Chairs. Part 8
Sheraton's chairs retained many of Hepplewhite's characteristics, but the great difference between them lay in the construction of the back, which it was Sheraton's aim to strengthen. His chairs, exce...
-Chapter VII. Settles, Settees, And Sofas
The first form of the long seat, afterward developed into the sofa, was the settle, which is found in the earliest inventories in this country, and still earlier in England. The settle oftenest seen i...
-Settles, Settees, And Sofas. Part 2
A sofa is shown in Illustration 208 from Stenton, the fine old house in Philadelphia, now occupied by the Colonial Dames. The back and arms are upholstered, and the shape of the arms, and the curved...
-Settles, Settees, And Sofas. Part 3
A double chair owned by Francis H. Bigelow, Esq., is shown in Illustration 215. The back is made of two Hepplewhite chair-backs, which combine the outline of the shield back and the middle of the inte...
-Settles, Settees, And Sofas. Part 4
The sofa in Illustration 224 belongs to the Misses Hosmer of Concord, and stands in their old house, filled with the furniture of generations past, and interesting with memories of the Concord philoso...
-Chapter VIII. Tables
The earliest form of table in use in this country was inventoried in 1642 as a table bord, and the name occurs in English inventories one hundred years earlier. The name board' was given quite li...
-Tables. Part 2
Illustration 239 shows a spindle-legged, gate-legged table, a type exceedingly rare like all spindle-legged furniture. The slender legs have Dutch feet. This dainty table has descended to Mrs. Edward ...
-Tables. Part 3
Illustration 250 shows a Chinese fretwork table owned by Harry Harkness Flagler, Esq. Such tables were designed by Ince and Mayhew and Chippendale, and were called show tables, the pierced gallery ser...
-Tables. Part 4
Illustration 258 shows a set or nest of Chinese tea tables owned by Dwight M. Prouty, Esq. They and the tea caddy case are lacquered in black with Chinese scenes in gold. These sets of tables were b...
-Tables. Part 5
Illustration 266 shows a Sheraton work-table, owned by Mrs. Samuel B. Woodward of Worcester. Illus. 266. - Sheraton Work-table 1810-1815. Illus. 267. - Maple and Mahogany Work-tables, 1810-1820...
-Chapter IX. Musical Instruments
SPINETS, virginals, and harpsichords were brought to the American colonies in English ships as early as 1645, when An old pair of virginalls appears in an inventory; and another, in 1654. In 1667 ...
-Musical Instruments. Part 2
In the Essex Institute of Salem is a spinet made by Samuel Blythe of Salem, the bill for which, dated 1786, amounts to eighteen pounds. The harpsichord, so named from its shape, was the most importan...
-Musical Instruments. Part 3
Illustration 285 is a fine example of an early pianoforte. Like the spinet and clavichord, the body of the instrument is separate from the lower frame, which is fastened together at the corners with l...
-Musical Instruments. Part 4
Illustration 292 shows a piano of most elaborate design, made about 1826. There is no maker's name upon the piano. The frame is of mahogany and has a brass moulding around the body, and brass rosette ...
-Musical Instruments. Part 5
The box in Illustration 299 holds twenty-four glasses, which, when used, are filled with water, and are tuned by the amount in each glass. The finger is dipped in the water and rubbed on the edge of t...
-Chapter X. Fires And Lights
WHEN wood was plentiful and easily gathered, the fireplace was built of generous proportions. At the back, lying in the ashes, was the back-log, sometimes so huge that a chain was attached to it, an...
-Fires And Lights. Part 2
The appurtenances for the fireplace in this list comprise the fender, shovel, tongs, broom, bellows, and the dogs. Illustration 315 shows a pair of brass andirons and Illustration 316, a set of bra...
-Fires And Lights. Part 3
As early as 1696, inventories mention a Candle-stand for two brass candlesticks. Illustration 322 shows two of these candle-stands in the collection of the late Major Ben : Perley Poore at Indian Hi...
-Fires And Lights. Part 4
Skreans are mentioned in very early inventories, and indeed they must have been a necessity, to protect the face from the intense heat of the large open fire. They afforded then, as now, an opportun...
-Chapter XI. Clocks
UNTIL about 1600, clocks were made chiefly for public buildings or for the very wealthy, who only could afford to own them; but with the seventeenth century began the manufacture of clocks for ordin...
-Clocks. Part 2
Illustration 343 shows two tall clocks which were owned originally by Thomas Hancock, from whom John Hancock inherited them. Thomas Hancock was a wealthy resident of Boston in 1738 when he wrote thus ...
-Clocks. Part 3
Illustration 349 shows a tall clock and a miniature one, both made about 1800, with painted faces. The tall clock has the name upon its face of Philip Holway, Falmouth. The case is mahogany, and the t...
-Clocks. Part 4
A clock similar in size, and also in design, to the last four illustrated is shown in Illustration 354. It was made by Stephen Hassam and bears his name. It is owned by Charles H. Morse, Esq., and ha...
-Chapter XII. Looking-Glasses
A STRONG distinction was made in America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries between mirrors and looking-glasses; the name mirror was applied to a particular kind of glass, either convex...
-Looking-Glasses. Part 2
Illustration 366 shows a looking-glass of the size which was called a pier glass, which must have been made about 1760. It is carved in walnut, and the natural wood has never been stained or gilt. I...
-Looking-Glasses. Part 3
A looking-glass with a mahogany and gilt frame, owned by the writer, is shown in the heading to Chapter IX (Musical Instruments). This looking-glass dates between the last two described; the curved fo...
-Looking-Glasses. Part 4
A circular convex glass in a gilt frame is shown in Illustration 380. Such glasses were advertised as mirrors, in distinction from the looking-glasses which were in ordinary use, and they were sol...
-Looking-Glasses. Part 5
M. G. Potter of Worcester, and the story in the family is that this looking-glass was made by Captain John Potter of North Brookfield, a well-known clock-maker and metal-worker, as a present to his br...
-Chapter XIII. Doorways, Mantels, And Stairs
NOWHERE in this country can the interiors of the old houses and their woodwork be studied as in Salem. The splendid mansions around Philadelphia and in Maryland and Virginia are detached and not alway...
-Doorways, Mantels, And Stairs. Part 2
In his Complete Body of Architecture Isaac Ware says of the chimney-piece : No common room, plain or elegant, could be constituted without it. No article in a well-finished room is so essential. T...
-Doorways, Mantels, And Stairs. Part 3
A Mclntire mantel is shown in Illustration 411, from the Kimball house in Salem. The carving is done by hand and is very elaborate, with urns in the corner insets, and a spray in the ones over the flu...
-Doorways, Mantels, And Stairs. Part 4
The ceiling in this room, a glimpse of which may be seen in the illustration, is elaborately decorated with rococo scrolls, framing medallions, in two of which are portrait heads. The entire house bea...
-Glossary Of Terms Used In Cabinet Work
A Acanthus The conventionalized leaf of the acanthus plant. Anthemion A Greek form of ornament made from the conventionalized flower of the honeysuckle. Apron The ornamental wooden piece extendi...









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previous page: The Practical Cabinet Maker And Furniture Designer's Assistant | by Frederick Thomas Hodgson
  
page up: Furniture Books
  
next page: Home Furnishing | by George Leland Hunter