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Furniture (C) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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CABINET-MAKERS: (French, Ebeniste). Until the end of the 17th century the craft of the woodworker had been vested in the carpenter and j oiner, who were responsible both for design and workmanship. The influx of new workmen into England from the Continent, following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, caused the craftsmen in wood to organize-as cabinetmakers. They were no longer to be joiners and carpenters; they were to make furniture only. Early in the 18th century cabinet-making had become a distinct industry.

CABINETS: A development of the enclosed cupboard known in England at an early date, and in general use throughout Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. These were nearly always in two parts. The upper was usually with doors, which, being opened, disclosed tiers of drawers sometimes built about a central cupboard or pigeon-hole recesses. The lower part was in the form of a table or lowboy. The "press" cabinet had drawers in the lower part, also, and was virtually a cabinet set on a low chest of drawers. Some of the cabinets of the 17th century were ornate specimens of workmanship with inlay oz marquetry the leading feature of decoration. Some were of Oriental makes imported from the East.

CABINETS, CHINA: The china cabinet or cupboard for the display of Oriental china came into use during the William and Mary period. The top portion was fitted with shelves and glazed doors. Doors also enclosed the lower part but had no glass. This type of cabinet was also used as a book-case.

CABOCHON: A plain round or oval surface, convex or concave, enclosed within ornamentation. The cabochon-and-leaf style in England was in vogue from 1735 to the time of Chippendale's prominence.

CABRIOLE LEG: This form of leg on furniture introduced into England from Holland became a feature in the reign of William and Mary and continued a distinctive mark through the Queen Anne period. It was in use in France and Italy prior to its appearance in England. It is the generic name for furniture made with a knee leg and concaved ankle. It was at first made with stretchers between the legs of chairs but these were gradually abandoned. It originally had the "hoof" foot, in time becoming the "club" foot, the "duck-bill" or "pad" foot as it was variously known. The cabriole leg was used on furniture in all positions where previously the turned leg had occurred. CAMEL- BACK Name given to the back of chairs of the Hepplewhite style with the raised curve in the center of the shield.

CANAPE: A French settee or a divan. Originally a couch with canopy of mosquito curtains.


CANDLES: In England in the 17th and 18th centuries, candles were made both of tallow and of wax. In this country early candles were made of mutton tallow, usually, but there were candles made from the wax of the bayberry, a pale green in color, giving a soft light and a pleasant odor. Candles were made by molding or dipping. For the former process, tin or pewter molds, two, four or more together were used. Dipping was a much slower process. Spermaceti candles were introduced in 1748 at Boston. Candles were mounted in either plain candlesticks or by sconces (wall brackets) for wall lighting, candle stands of wood or of wrought iron, or by hook pendants of iron. The elaborate chandeliers of the 18th century were fitted for use with candles. There were many variations of all of these methods of early lighting. See LIGHTS, PART 5.

CANDLE STANDS: In the 17th century these were made of wood or of wrought iron fitted with holders for one or more candles. In the 18th century, walnut or mahogany was used and some of them in latter part of the century were elaborately carved and called Torcheres. They were 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet high with a tripod base and a circular flat top, designed to hold the candlestick. In this country three-legged stands of the Windsor design came between the other mentioned forms.

CANDLE WOOD: The pine-knot used by early colonists in America for lighting.

CANE: The use of cane for chair seats and backs came through Portugal from the Orient and was first used in England in the reign of Charles I. It was at first very coarse in quality, but was 'much improved in that respect by the end of the century. See Rush BOTTOMS.

CANTERBURY: A supper tray, latter part of 18th century, with partitions to hold knives, forks and plates.

CAPITAL: The upper part of a column or pillar.

CARCASE: The main body of a piece of furniture.

CARD-CUT ORNAMENT: A feature of Chinese Chippendale. A shallow flat-relief ornament, usually applied. See same topic, PART 5.


CARE OF ANTIQUE FURNITURE: This is a subject that has had too little attention. Wood, unless it receives an occasional treatment of oil and wax (q.v.), is apt to be injured by the dry air of the average home. Cracks will appear, the veneer will loosen, the drawers will stick and the surface will lose its lustre and become dull; the piece is starved for lack of care. If the furniture is rubbed and polished with wax at regular intervals, it may be kept in good condition indefinitely. "Elbow grease" is still one of the best polishes in existence. Supplement this with either oil or wax (or both) and you will not have to worry about the condition of the surface of your furniture.

CAROLEAN PERIOD: (Late Stuart) 1660-1688. See JACOBEAN PERIOD.

CARTOUCHE: An ornamental form of irregular shape, enclosing a plain central surface, often used as field for painted device or inscription.


CARVING: Carving was usually done by one of three processes. Incised or "scratch" in which the design is sharply cut in the surface; flat, the groundwork cut out, leaving flat surfaces outward; and modeled, where the design stands out in well-molded relief.

CARYATID: A conventionalized human figure serving as the top member of a pedestal or leg and used as a support.

CASKET: A small chest, with lid and lock for safe keeping of trinkets.

CASSONE: Also called coffer. The marriage coffer of the Italian Renaissance often lavishly decorated by carving or by inlay, and by painting on gesso. The rise and fall of the Renaissance can be traced in its decoration. It was never made in England.

CELLARET: Made of mahogany, sometimes bound with brass and lined with zinc, to hold the ice-cooled wine. It was of a size to place under the sideboard. See WINE COOLERS.,/p>

CERTOSINA: A kind of inlay work of light or dark woods, composed of small pieces put together in geometrical forms. See INLAY.

CHAIRS: (French, Chaises). Of ancient chairs, ordinarily used for domestic purposes, a variety have been discovered in excavations, or represented in ancient frescoes. The spread of Greek and Roman culture westward introduced the chair to the lesser advanced European nations. Very little is known of the intermediate stages of the evolution of the chair until about the close of the 15th century. Chairs of Gothic design were made in Germany, and, in Italy, velvet-covered chairs were made at the beginning of the 16th century, and the curule-shaped chair was introduced into England by Italian workmen during the reign of Henry VIII. Hardly anything so fully reflects the manners and customs of an age as furniture, and the chair is by far the most sensitive to new and foreign influences.

The medieval chair as distinct from the clerical "throne" or stall is the rarest of all early furniture. They were often made entirely of turned members and were known as "thrown" chairs. Chairs were at first seats of great dignity, and, for a long time, reserved for the head of the family. Benches and stools were for the use of the others. In Elizabeth's reign chairs were square, ugly and uncomfortable and it was not until nearly the close of the 16th century that domestic chairs were in use. The backs and seats of these were sometimes padded and covered with damask or velvet upholstery. They were not the usual seat at the table for meals, until after the Restoration in 1660. During the reign of Charles II, the use of the chair increased very rapidly, although it retained its function as a seat of honor, and from that time until the present the chair has continued to be one of the chief articles of domestic furniture. In this country chairs were very scarce in early Colonial times, but by the end of the 17th century chairs with leather backs and seats, turned chairs, and the slat-back chairs were comparatively common. The craft of the chairmaker, beginning with the Restoration, was quite separate from that of the cabinet-maker, and for honesty of workmanship and beauty combined with utility, the chairs of the 18th century, both in England and in this country, have not been surpassed.

Arm-Chairs. Chairs with arms, an "easy" chair. The "bergere" was a French arm-chair with upholstered sides, the "fauteuil" one open under the arms. See Wing Chairs.

Banister-Back Chairs. Early 18th century. Made with arms or without arms and with upright spindles in the back, usually four in number, either flat or half round on the back side. The seats were of rush or splint, combining both the Flemish and Spanish styles in legs, and with cresting at the top and a large bulb stretcher across the front. The banister-back chair is characteristically American.

Brewster Chairs. See Carver Chairs.

Caned Chairs. Often called Jacobean although more definitely connected with Carolean furniture, as caning of seats and backs was not introduced into England from Holland before the reign of Charles II. There were two distinct types of these chairs; one the scroll-foot chair, called Flemish, the other with the well-known Spanish foot. Lines were straight and the under-bracing carved. Cushioned seats were often used on these chairs. Cane-work was re-introduced and applied to furniture about 1770, Robert Adam using it in his designs quite extensively.

Carver Chairs. So-called from the one in Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth, said to have been owned by Governor Carver. It was a heavy chair made entirely from turnings fitted into each other horizontally and vertically. Side chairs of this type were made here. The Brewster chair is an elaboration of the Carver chair by the addition of spindles under the arms and the seat.

Chippendale Chairs. See CHIPPENDALE STYLE.

Comb-Back Chairs. See Corner and Windsor Chairs.

Corner or Roundabout Chairs. An armchair, the back of which extends around two sides, leaving two sides and a corner in front. Those of the Queen Anne period usually had upright spindles in the back, or solid splats. Chippendale's chisel cut through this splat, and it became ornamental. Seats were of rush or of wood. Sometimes a head piece was placed above the back, also with spidles, giving the appearance of a comb, hence the name comb-back chair.

Cromwellian Chairs. The low back of the Cromwellian chair has a deep top rail with the seat and back usually upholstered in leather in the Spanish style, fastened to the frame by rows of brassheaded nails. Legs and stretchers were in the style of the Wainscot chair (q.v. ).

The Cromwellian chair was also made with bead or sausage turnings and with Turkey-work covering in place of leatlr er. These chairs are frequently mentioned in inventories of estates in this country, last half of 17th century. These chairs must not be confounded with the so-called Spanish leather chairs which came after the Restoration.

Fancy Chairs. An outgrowth of Sheraton and Phyfe designs, delicate in form and usually painted black, with gold and flower decorations. They were made of soft wood, light in weight, and had cane or rush seats. During the first quarter of the 19th century, these chairs and sofas were made and sold in large numbers.

Farthingale Chairs. A type of English chair without arms. A seat of the Tudor period and later, when hooped petticoats of enormous size were worn.

Hepplewhite Chairs. See HEPPLEWHITE STYLE.

Hitchcock Chairs. The name given to a type of chair made by Lambert Hitchcock and others in Connecticut about 1826, and thereafter for many years. Hitchcock's early chairs were stenciled on the back edge of the seat with his name, and were decorated with stenciled designs. They were generally made of birch or maple and with cane or rush seats. Whether he originated the style is open to question. That he made some of the finest is admitted, and the name Hitchcock became a generic term for the so-called "fancy chairs" of the period. Hitchcock also made the so-called Boston Rocker (see RockingChairs). Several of his competitors imitated his chairs, and chairs of his design are still being made.

Hogarth Chairs. A chair of the Queen Anne period made of walnut, with cabriole legs, a wide seat and a solid, central supporting vase-shaped (also called "fiddle-back") splat from the frame of the seat to the top of the back. This chair was very comfortable and popular because it is said to have been the first chair in which the furniture maker had considered human anatomy in his design. The back is slightly dished.

Ladder-Back Chairs. See CHIPPENDALE STYLE.

Lancashire Chairs. A variation of the Yorkshire Chair (q.v.). Instead of having an open back it had a solid panel with a semi-circular carved cresting at top.

Martha Washington Chairs. An upholstered chair with high, canted back and with arms usually without upholstery, made here, late 18th century. It has tapered square legs and in its design shows Hepplewhite influence.

Phyfe Chairs. See PHYFE, DUNCAN, STYLE.

RIBBAND-BACK CHAIR: Chairs of the Chippendale style, with pierced or scrolled splats and carved ribbon forms. Usually with cabriole legs.

Rocking-Chairs. They seem to have had their origin in this country, probably not earlier than the Revolutionary War. Many of the existing old rockers had the rockers added long after the chair itself was made. The Boston Rocker, which in the opinion of Wallace Nutting is probably the most popular chair ever made, is an adaptation of the Windsor design. It was usually made with arms, rounded top and rolling seat. The earliest date for these is about 1825.

Roundabout Chairs. See Corner Chairs.

Savonarola Chairs. See X-Shaped Chairs.

Sedan Chairs. A portable chair, or covered vehicle with side windows and an entrance through an opening in the front. It was carried by means of poles on each side passing through rings set in the body of the chair.

Sheraton Chairs. See SHERATON STYLE.

Side Chairs. Chairs without arms.

Slat-Back Chairs. Chairs, usually of turned stock, of native hard woods, made with and without arms and with two to five and sometimes, although seldom, six horizontal slats usually of ash across the back, and usually curved outward. The slats are graduated in width, the narrowest at the bottom. The upper slat in the 17th century was sometimes five inches wide and the upper and lower edges of all the slats were flat. In the 18th century they ranged from three to four inches in width and the edges were curved slightly. The seats were of rush or splint. Some of these chairs, with large turned posts, date well back into the 17th century, and they were among the most popular of the early types of chairs. Simple slatback chairs, following the early form, but lightened in their elements, were made throughout the 18th century and well into the 19th century, the Shaker chairs of modern manufacture being a continuation of the form.

Spanish Chairs. A chair of the Carolean period, with the Spanish foot, turned legs and carved under-brace. The seat and tall narrow back are covered with Spanish leather. It is of a type similar to the caned chairs (q.v.) of the same period.

Table Chairs. This was a combination of a chair (settle) and table, the top (or back) turning on a pin at the point where the arms join the back posts, and forming the table top, when turned down flat. They were at first made with a square top, later with round top, and sometimes were made with a chest beneath the seat. Oak, pine and maple were the woods used. They were in use in England in the 16th century and were quite common in this country during the 17th century.

Turned Chairs. Medieval chairs were often made entirely of turned members and were known as "thrown" chairs. Also, chairs of the Colonial period, probably of English origin, usually made of ash although maple and hickory were also used, in which turned pieces only were used in the construction, with more or less elaborated spindles. Seats were of rush or flag. The so-called Carver chair (q.v.), at Plymouth, is an example. The spiral turned chair of the Jacobean period was of Eastern origin and came into England through Portugal and Holland. The backs of these chairs, and the stretchers, were often elaborately carved, and they were upholstered in leather or with Turkey-work.

Wainscot Chairs. A chair usually of oak, characteristic of the 16th and 17th centuries. In the Tudor period always a box bottom. When made with legs it is of the Jacobean period. It had arms, and seat and back were of solid panels. The back was vertical and carved in the same pattern, usually, as the chests and cupboards of the period. The seat was often made more comfortable by the use of cushions. American Wainscot chairs are seldom encountered. The earlier or Elizabethan chairs had a cresting between the stiles of the back and a finial at the summit of the stiles, horizontal arms, square seats. In the Jacobean period the cresting consisted of the Flemish scroll across the entire top, the arms began to slope downward and to spread outward, and the seat was wider at the front than at the back. The back of the American Wainscot chair was slightly "canted" instead of being vertical as the English chairs were.

Windsor Chairs. The Windsor chair was probably of English peasant origin, in a little town north of Windsor where they were made before the time of Queen Anne, and they remained popular in England throughout the 18th century. A solid or pierced splat in the center of the back, with spindles on each side, is a characteristic of the English chair. The English Windsor chair was made sometimes with the cabriole leg but never made so in this country. Windsor chairs of the American design have the shaved, upright spindles only. Of the two, the American Windsor is more graceful and more harmonious in proportion and design. Both chairs are made with and without arms, and in this country, the "comb-back," the "fan-back," the "hoop-back" and the "low-back" are all familiar types. It is thought that the first Windsor chairs in this country were made at or near Philadelphia about 1725, and soon after spread to other of the northern colonies, becoming the most common and popular chairs of the 18th century. Hickory, ash, beech and maple were used in the construction of the legs and backs. The seats were of pine or other soft woods. A Windsor chair made of but one kind of wood is seldom found. They were usually painted green or black.

Wing Chairs. This type of chair appeared first about the middle of the reign of Charles II, and because of its comfort soon became very popular, remaining in vogue for more than a century. It was graceful in design, with high back and wings projecting forward at the sides, extending down to the arms which were made with a scroll oI straight turnover. Feet and legs were of varied design, and sometimes stretchers were used. The Wing chair, late 17th century, was the progenitor of everything that claims to be an easychair.

Writing Arm-Chairs. An adaptation of the Windsor chair by the addition of a large desk arm, usually with a drawer underneath the arm for paper, etc., and sometimes with a drawer beneath the seat. It is believed to have been of Philadelphia origin, fairly early in the Windsor chair period. The arm was, roughly speaking, pear-shaped, but the chairs made differ so greatly in detail of design that it is evident they were produced by the makers to suit the individual ideas of the purchaser. There was even a slide for a candlestick to rest upon, sometimes placed in front of the arm.

X-Shaped Chairs. A frame of wood in X shape, with a fabric seat and back. They were of the Tudor period in England, derived from the Italian, and sometimes called "curule" after an early Roman chair.

Yorkshire Chairs. An English chair of Puritan design, with turned legs and an open back, with carved crescent-shaped cross rails, linking the vertical members of the back.

CHAISE LONGUE: French reclining chair or day bed, with elongated seat and an upholstered back supported by extra legs. It was a feature of the French Empire furniture.

CHAMFER: A beveled cutting away of a corner angle.

CHANNELING: A system of paralleled, vertical horizontal grooves or channels, cut into the surface of a frieze or other woodwork.

CHECKER OR CHEQUER: A favorite motif in 16th and 17th century inlay in dark and light woods.

CHERRY: A firm, strong, close-grained wood suitable for cabinet-making purposes. It takes on a good polish and colors well with age. About the middle of the 18th century it competed with maple for preference with many American cabinetmakers, especially in the Connecticut River Valley.


CHESTS: (French, Coffre) The earliest piece of furniture, associated with the life history of all civilized nations, is the chest. The accumulation of property necessitated a place for storing what had been accumulated, and the chest provided the place. In very early times, they were huge oak boxes, bound with iron and furnished with strong locks and with iron handles or rings through which a pole could be passed and the chest, then slung from the pole, was borne on men's shoulders. They served also for seats and for tables. In England, they were usually made of oak but some of the later ones were made of West Indian cedar or cypress for the storage of clothes, to prevent damage from moths. During the Tudor and early Jacobean periods, they were paneled and carved. Ornament consisted of carved linenfold or heads within medallions. The chest became a chest with a drawer and raised on low legs in Cromwellian days, then a chest with drawers but retaining the hinged lid, and a chest of drawers in the Restoration, mounted on legs, joined by stretchers. The simple chest is, therefore, the parent of many pieces of furniture. Chests of drawers with a fixed top were in use in this country during the 17th century, although not common. Examples of these I early chests of drawers are rarely seen. They were usually made of oak and were decorated with carving, paneling and (or) applied ornaments.

Late in the 17th century, chests of drawers mounted on legs were introduced into New England. These eventually became known as highboys (q.v. ), a relatively modern term. Chests of drawers with cupboard tops were much ', in use in England during the latter half of the 18th century. Until about 1750 walnut was chiefly used for these. Later mahogany was favored. Many chests were brought to this country from England and Holland by the early settlers and others were made here very soon after their arrival. These early chests were at first made of plain boards, dovetailed or pegged, usually without ornament. Later, they were framed or j oined together with mortise and tenon and paneled and carved or painted. Usually, the top, the back and the bottoms of both chest and drawers were made of pine. The size varied from 18 inches in height, when without drawers, to 48 inches, when with three drawers. The length, from 30 inches to 60 inches. The earliest carved chests found here are with panels in arched designs, identical with patterns seen in England during same period. The carving is usually very shallow.

Bureaus. What is known in this country as a bureau is simply a chest of drawers called by another name. (In England and in France the bureau is what is known here as a desk.) Those made earlier than 1750 are very scarce, but many of the last half of the century have survived, mostly made of mahogany, with plain and inlaid surfaces, and with flat, swell and serpentine fronts, usually with bracket feet, four drawers, and the so-called "willow" brasses. Following these were the bureaus of Sheraton design with oval brasses and later the heavy Empire designs with glass or wooden knobs for drawers.

Connecticut Chests. Made by Nicholas Disbrowe (q.v. PART 6) and others of Hartford, Connecticut, late 17th century. They were ornamented with flatcarved all-over design of tulips and sun flowers on the front, with two drawers at bottom.

Dowry Chests, also called Dower Chests. The name given generally to the chests of the German settlers in America, although it is applicable to similar chests of other of the early settlers, such as the Connecticut and Hadley chests. The German chests were made with two or three small drawers across the bottom and usually mounted on ball or bracket feet. They had arched or square panels, with painted decoration in various designs, and most of them bear the initials of the bride and the date.

Hadley Chests. So-called because of the considerable number of chests of similar size, construction and design that have been found near Hadley, Massachusetts. They were probably made from 1675 to 1710, by a group of joiners led by John Allis of Hadley, a grand-nephew of Nicholas Disbrowe of Hartford, who designed and made so-called Connecticut chests. The top, the back and the bottom, also the drawer frames of the Hadley chest are made of pine. The front is of oak, carved and painted. The ends are paneled but not carved, and the center front panel almost invariably has initials, which add to its human interest. No two of the Hadley chests are just alike.

Nonesuch Chests. With marquetry designs in colored woods, of architectural form, a style of Italian origin, introduced into England in the 16th century and continuing in vogue until well into the Jacobean period. The name is derived from the palace of Nonesuch, built by Henry VIII, which the outlines of the ornamentation are supposed to represent.

Taunton Chests. A type of early American painted chests previously ascribed to Connecticut, but made in Taunton, Massachusetts, probably by Robert Crossman, first half of 18th century. They were decorated by painted design.

CHEST-ON-CHEST. Two chests, both with drawers, set one above the other. It never enjoyed as much popularity in America as in England. There it was a favorite device of the Chippendale era. It differed from the highboy (q.v.) in that the latter was set up on a frame with legs, while the chest-on-chest had drawers reaching nearly to the floor, at times with one of the drawer fronts let down at a suitable height for writing. The upper section was usually slightly smaller in width and depth than the lower. The earlier flat top was followed by the scroll top. Dr. Irving W. Lyon, pioneer collector and author of one of the first books on early American furniture in 1891, includes the highboy in his descriptions and illustrations of chests-on-chests. Among authors of later date the two are classified separately.

CHESTNUT: A very durable white wood and suitable for high-class cabinet work. Sometimes used in England in the 18th century as a substitute for satinwood, as the grain is similar.


CHIP CARVING: Shallow faceted ornament executed with chisel and gouge and common in England in the 16th and 17th centuries.

CHIPPENDALE STYLE: The Chippendale style is a generic term. It includes not only the work of Chippendale, but also the work of his contemporaries and some of the work which was done before he attained distinction himself. Nevertheless, Chippendale was the dominant figure in English furniture design from 1745 to 1770 and about 1750 his influence began to be felt, too, in this country. Chippendale went to London before 1749, and in 1754 he published the Director containing designs not only for chairs in great variety, but for bookcases, mirror frames, tables and stands, fire screens and numerous other pieces of household furniture, which established his leadership as a cabinet-maker. It is said that he originated tripod furniture. His chair patterns are particularly notable. They consisted of chairs with square-topped backs and with upright center splat pierced and scrolled in never ending variety (the so-called "ribband-back"), usually with cabriole legs, and claw-and-ball feet; the Gothic and Chinese types, with all-over patterns, square legs, often with stretchers, and the "ladder-back" chair with three or four wavy horizontal rails across the back carved to match the top rail, and with square legs. The arms joined the uprights at an angle on all of these styles. Fret-work in the Chinese style was popular with him and is to be seen on a great variety of his furniture. The English Gothic cluster column leg is an actual innovation of the Chippendale school.

Chippendale worked in mahogany almost altogether and relied upon carving for decorative effects, until, in his later years, he was employed to produce designs by Adam. His style may be described as having strength and solidity without heaviness, grace, wonderful craftsmanship and adaptability to the use for which the piece was made. See THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, PART 6.

CLAVICHORD: Obsolete keyed stringed instrument, the forerunner of the old square pianoforte. It was first made in the 15th century. It never became as popular in England as the virginal or spinet.

CLAW-AND-BALL FOOT: This style of foot was of Chinese origin, referring to the legend of the dragon's foot holding a pearl. In England, where the style was introduced about 1715, the eagle's claw or the lion's paw was substituted for the dragon's foot. The style remained popular throughout the Chippendale era.

CLOCK REEL: A reel for winding flax in skeins, designed to record the amount wound so as to be uniform in quantity.

CLOCKS: (French, Cloche, a bell). The origin of the time-keeping device is shrouded in the mists of antiquity. The sundial (q.v.), the sand glass (q.v.), and the water-clock have each had their uses in recording the passage of the hours. Candles made exactly twelve inches long and burning one inch in every twenty minutes was another simple way of marking time. The water-clock, the first mechanical device for keeping time, was first used by Eastern nations, and was introduced into Greece by Plato. Among the first of the clocks, composed of an assemblage of wheels, is that of St. Paul's Cathedral in London which was put up in 1286. The famous clock at Rouen, France, was made in 1289, and it is still the chief clock of the city. By the end of the 16th century, clocks for domestic use, with but one hand and with a balance or fly-wheel escapement, were made at a moderate price. In the middle of the 17th century, the short "bob" pendulum and the minute hand were introduced, followed soon by the long pendulum introduced into England from Holland by Fromanteel, and the anchor escapement, invented by Dr. Hooke in 1658, insuring accuracy of time. The dials of these early clocks were usually ten inches in diameter. After 1720, twelve-inch dials were usual. The earliest English tall-case clocks are said to have been those of William Clement, made in London about 1680, although the long-case is said to be of Dutch origin. Many of the early long-cases were decorated with marquetry, and later lacquer was also used for the same purpose. This was before the use of mahogany for cases, although lacquer continued to be used until the last half of the 18th century. Clocks were made with wooden and with brass works at about the same time. The "Clock-makers Company" was founded in 1631 and the most important work which this company accomplished was training men for the art. Each apprentice had to make his masterpiece before he was admitted as a workmaster. There were two general styles of clocks in use, one which was run with weights, the other with a spiral spring. The first variety was the older.

Owners of "ancient clocks" are sometimes anxious to know if they are by good makers. On general principles, any clock which has been going more than a hundred years is a good clock, no matter who made it. Prior to 1777, at which time Parliament passed a law that English clocks must have the name and abode of the maker engraved on them, the name inscribed was often that of the owner. The earliest clocks in America were made in Boston. Clockmakers in New York and in Philadelphia before 1700 and in Connecticut about 1712 followed, and clock-making became one of the really early American crafts. A very large list of names of American and English clock-makers is to be found in MRS. Moore's Old Clock Book, and in Volume 3 of Furniture Treasury by WALLACE NUTTING.

Banjo Clocks. The so-called banjo clocks were invented by Simon Willard and called by him his "improved timepiece." They were intended by him to replace the long-case "Grandfather's" clock. He applied for and received a patent in 1801, but he did not restrain imitations of the clock by other makers, including Aaron Willard, Lemuel Curtis and others, and as a consequence the pattern became well known and had a wide sale, the benefits of which Willard received in but a moderate degree. In its simplicity, grace and adequacy of design, the banjo clock is little short of a masterpiece. The works were of brass and the dead-beat escapement gave it great accuracy. Sometimes the case below is made in the form of the lyre, giving it the name of "lyre" clock. This was a variation originated by Aaron Willard, Jr. Genuine Simon Willard clocks of this type (or any other that he made) command high prices, and some of those made by other makers are very highly regarded.

Bird-Cage Clocks. The bird-cage or so-called "lantern" clocks of the 16th and 17th centuries were among the earliest clocks in use in England for domestic purposes. They were made of brass, about ten inches high and were set upon a bracket on the wall, with the weights hung upon cord or chain passing through openings in the shelf. The dial, at first, had but one hand with the hour spaces divided into fifths. About the middle of the 17th century the "bob" (short) pendulum superseded the crown-wheel escapement controlled by a spring, which was a decided improvement. The clocks ran for not more than thirty hours. The dials were usually of engraved brass and stood out beyond the frame which was surmounted by a bell. These clocks were of English design and all of the makers of clocks of that early period followed identically the one design. They continued in use for more than a century and some of them were brought to this country by the early settlers.

Bracket Clocks. The bracket clock, spring-driven, is a development of the bird-cage clock. The clock was placed in a wooden case, often carved and ornamented with ormolu or other decoration in quite a luxurious manner. A handle on top, or one on each side, made removal easy. This style of clock continued in use for more than one hundred years, and many of them are still in good running order. These clocks are among the things that make the greatest appeal to the lovers of the antique.

French Clocks. Portable clocks in a variety of forms, following the styles of the period, were made in France in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were usually supported by a pedestal, a bracket, or were in a tall case. There were but few mantel clocks before the time of Louis XV. From about 1760 these clocks were made in marble and bronze or with wood cases, and the works, as a rule, were excellent. Many of these were imported to this country in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Grandfather's Clocks-Long-Case Clocks. The long pendulum coming into use in the latter half of the 17th century, at first swinging below the shelf on which the bird-cage clock was placed, gave the name of wag-on-the-wall to the clock although the real wag-on-the-wall was of Dutch origin, sometimes called Friesland clocks, also. Someone conceived the idea of making a case to enclose the whole (William Clement of London is said to have made the first in England in 1680) and in that manner the long-case clock had its origin. The early clocks had thirty-hour movements but Tompion and other clockmakers of the period perfected the eight-day movements which have continued in use since. The earliest cases were very plain, made mostly of oak, walnut or pine, and at first the dials were square with frosted center, silvered dial ring, steel hands and cast brass spandrel ornaments at the corners.

About 1730, the half circle over the dial appeared and the flat top gave place to the hood with arched top. Brass works were used. In 1773, the engraved brass dial without frosting or ring was introduced, and about 1790 white painted or enameled dials appeared. The cases were usually made by some cabinet-maker, although some makers of the works made the cases also. Long-case clocks by American clock makers of the 18th and 19th centuries rank very high in workmanship and in timekeeping qualities. Much of this work was confined to New England, and clocks from that section were sent to all parts of the then settled country.

Grandmother's Clocks. A clock of the same general appearance as the grandfather's, but not so tall. One of the early Simon Willard clocks was of this type, four feet high.

Lantern Clocks. See Bird-Cage Clocks.

Lighthouse Clocks. A clock with a glass hood covering the works and standing on a wooden case about twenty inches high.

Lyre Clocks. See Banjo Clocks.

Mantel Clocks. See Shelf Clocks.

Shelf Clocks. These were first made by Eli Terry in 1814. They were made with both wood and brass works and ran thirty hours. This style of clocks is one of the first, if not the first, articles of manufacture in this country to benefit by "quantity production." Chauncey Jerome, a clock-maker of the period, in his book on american clock-making published 1860, says that "these clocks completely revolutionized the whole business." The clocks of this pattern supplied the American market for twenty-five years or more and they were exported to foreign countries in large numbers. The Terry "pillarand-scroll" case is regarded as the best of this style of clocks, and the sharp Gothic pattern designed by Elias Ingraham of Bristol was one of the most widely known.

Wag-on-the-Wall Clocks. See Grandfather's Clocks.

CLUB FOOT: A plain flat foot not unlike the Dutch foot. It is known also as the duck-bill or pad foot, and is less graceful than the hoof foot which was originally the termination of the cabriole leg. It first appeared on English furniture about 1705 and continued to be used throughout the 18th century.

COASTERS: Devices of various forms for circulating food and bottles on a dining table. Sometimes called "Lazy Susan."

COCK-BEADING: A narrow raised beading used to surround the edges of drawers, first introduced about 1730 and continued to be used throughout the 18th century.

COFFER: (French, Cofj're) In medieval times a strongly made chest with a lid and with lock for the safe keeping of valuables, often carved and otherwise ornamented.

COLONIAL FURNITURE-MAKERS: In Colonial days every town, however small, had its joiners and chairmakers, and judging from their work, many of them must have been skilled craftsmen. Many of them settled in and about Boston and the other New England Colonies, and most of the American furniture of the 17th century was of New England origin. These early makers used oak, ash, elm, walnut, maple, cedar and pine. Although New England retained its leadership in the 18th century, Philadelphia rose to prominence through the splendid work of Savery, Gillingham and Gostelowe, and others, and before the end of the century, furniture made in this country compared favorably with that of the best English cabinet-makers. Besides the native woods, mahogany was imported and its use in this country preceded that in England.

COLONIAL PERIOD (American) 1620-1773: The early settlers in this country brought with them into New England and the other colonies only a few pieces of furniture. The ships were small, the space was limited and furniture was quite bulky. The carpenters and joiners among the immigrants found occupation at once, and in providing the needed furniture they, quite naturally, followed the construction and designs with which they were familiar, with no thought of producing anything distinctive. Certain furniture forms became particularly popular and were frequently reproduced.

In the decoration of the earlier work the carving was crude, and some of the tables, chairs and chests were painted. Their materials were air-dried, and in all of the 17 ch-century furniture the presence of American pine, white and yellow, maple, local fruit and nut woods, Virginia walnut, or oak, which is generally lighter in color than the English, is an important clue to its origin. Furthermore, it was made to endure, with mortise and tenon joints and pins to hold them tight. Later, as settlers continued to arrive from England and from Holland, bringing with them furniture of a changing style or period, the designs here were slowly adapted to those changes. The joiners became more expert in the use of their tools, their carving was better, they began to show evidences of originality in designing new and useful pieces.

Early in the 18th century many socalled transition pieces were made, combining features of the Jacobean, perhaps, with the William and Mary Queen Anne design. The usual banister back chair of that time, characteristically American, is an example. The highboy, although it had its origin in England, received much more attention here than there. Toward the middle of the century the genius of some of the New England cabinet-makers and of those of Philadelphia resulted in the production of furniture forms of the highest order. The use of mahogany had become general during the second quarter of the century, and the carving done on some of these later pieces approaches and often equals that done by the best cabinet-makers abroad. During all the period of about one hundred and fifty years, however closely the work done by local craftsmen may resemble European models, there are variations in certain parts due not only to the lack of models to follow exactly but to the ideas regarding improvements, by the craftsmen themselves. During the later years of this period the Philadelphia craftsmen assumed increasing importance. See REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD.

COMMODE: The name borrowed from France for a chest of drawers, similar to our bureau, designed chiefly in the French style. It is ornamental and decorative and in England it displaced the tallboy (highboy) early in the 18th century.

CONSOLE: A French word, meaning a bracket, also indicates a table standing or leaninn against a wall. See TABLES, Console.


CORBEL: A supporting projection, often ornamented with flowers, fruit or figures. A bracket.



CORNICE: The highest projection at the top of chests, cupboards and other furniture. Also the top or finished molding of a column. See LocxwooD's Colonial Furniture in America for detailed analysis of case furniture.

COUCHES: Early couches were really long chairs, without back on the long side, but instead attached to one end. They were Flemish in style with scroll feet and carved under-braces, followed by those in the Queen Anne and. Chippendale styles. The French chaise-longue (q.v.) was in the same general style. See BEDS, Day, also SOFAS.


COURTING GLASS: A mirror found in New England seaport towns, presumed to be of Chinese origin. They varied in size from eight by ten inches, to twelve by fourteen inches, and they were usually fastened with removable pegs into a small flat box. The mirrors were framed with strips of painted glass and they were usually hung on the wall, in the box.

CRADLES: There were two varieties of cradles in use in Colonial times, one swinging between uprights, the other mounted on short rockers, with hood. Some of the cradles of the Pennsylvania Germans of the 18th century were decorated.

CREDENCE: A kind of cupboard or buffet on legs of the Renaissance period. The back was solid, the front supported by two or four legs, resting on a base. Often used as a serving table, but chiefly as a repository for valuable plate or vessels.

CRESTING: Carving on the top rail of a chair or settee back. It became the salient feature of the type of chair introduced into England at the Restoration.


CROSS BANDING: A border banding of veneer, placed so that the grain runs across that of the main surface. It was used throughout the 18th century.

CROSS RAIL: The horizontal bar or splat in a chair back.

CUPBOARDS: At first but a single shelf, literally a "borde" on which to set cups, then other shelves added, then a door covering the contents, at first plain, then paneled, then carved, until it became the piece of furniture that collectors today value and admire. In its development, it was called by various names (see ALMERY) and it served for various purposes. The word began to acquire its modern significance in the second quarter of the 16th century. It ranged in size from the early small lowly structure made to sit on a table to the later stately press cupboard. Cupboards were fastened together, mortise and tenon fashion, with wooden pegs. No nails were used in them and almost all the designs carved on them were those of the room panels of the period to which the furniture belonged. They were in use in all of the colonies in the 17th century, with the same variations as in England; the court, livery and press cupboards. They were superseded by the high chests of drawers which came into use in the last quarter of the 17th century.

Corner Cupboards. Also called, in this country, beaufait. The upper part was semi-domed in shape and a carved shell was frequently the decoration. This part was sometimes with doors, frequently without. The lower part was usually closed in with paneled doors, corresponding to the room paneling. They made their appearance in the first quarter of the 18th century. Later, a hanging corner cupboard was designed, from thirty inches to four feet high, with enclosed shelves. These hanging corner cupboards were quite common in England where they made their appearance in the 17th century.

Court Cupboards. A development of the chest, it was originally a low cupboard set on a side table, taking its name from the French word, court, meaning low or short. Later the two were combined and the lower part was fitted sometimes with shelves, sometimes with doors making a lower cupboard. In England this piece of furniture was used for the display and keeping of plate and Dther table furnishings. It corresponded in a measure to the modern sideboard. Strictly speaking, it was open below the main shelf, and when closed should be called a press cupboard (q.v.). Early in the 17th century it became a tall carved piece of furniture with the cupboard of the upper part set back so that there was a ledge in front of it. The top projected like a roof and was supported by two turned columns, often of the melon bulb pattern. In England they were made all of oak. Of those made in this country the backs were usually of pine. The court cupboards were designed to contain the wines, food and candles for the lord and lady of the manor of the early days, while the livery cupboard (q.v.) was for the servants' use.

Dole Cupboards. These contained meat and bread for distribution to the poor. They were placed, not only in the churches, but in the homes of the wealthy as well, for pensioners and for family retainers. See ALMERY.

Hanging Cupboards. For clothing, about five feet in height or even less, with openings in the doors to ventilate the clothing hanging within.

Livery Cupboards. A receptacle for food, wine or candles for servants, common in Tudor and early Jacobean periods. They were made both with doors and without and were hung on the wall or set on a table. American-made pieces of this type are rare although they are mentioned frequently in inventories of estates in the 17th century. Presumably, they were brought from England.

Press Cupboards. Resembling the Court Cupboard (q.v.) above the shelf dividing the upper from the lower section, but below, instead of shelves, the press cupboard is fitted either with compartments with doors, or with drawers, used for linen or for clothing. In England it was also generally larger than the court cupboard. In this country these early cupboards, of which there are very few remaining examples, are usually about five feet high and four feet wide and they were made of native oak. They were primarily a place for storage, and no two are exactly alike. In Connecticut the decoration on them resembles the "Sunflower" chest of Nicholas Disbrowe. The applied ornaments and the carving are virtually identical. The use of these cupboards declined toward the end of the 17th century, being displaced by the high chest of drawers or by the highboy.

CUPBOARD CLOTHS: All kinds of cupboards here as in England were furnished with cupboard cloths of various materials and colors. Cupboard cushions are also frequently mentioned in the inventories in this country of estates of the 17th century.

CUPID'S BOW: A variety of compound or serpentine curves much used in the top rails on Chippendale's chairs.

CURULE: The name given to the shape of the chair derived from a chair of the early Romans. Very popular in Italian and Spanish chairs of the Renaissance period. It had a square seat with a loose cushion and X-shaped legs.

CYMA CURVE: A wave curve, a double or compounded S curve called cyma recta, convex below and concave above, and cyma reversa, convex above and concave below. It is characteristic of the familiar cabriole leg and chair backs of the Queen Anne period.

CYPRESS: A hard, very durable, close grained wood of reddish color. A native of Persia and the Levant, it was used in England because of its moth and worm resisting properties.