Chests And Cupboards
( Originally Published 1905 )
DURING the Middle Ages and through several succeeding centuries, the chest ranked next to the bed as the most important piece of household furniture. Of course, this statement does not apply to the courts, where more or less luxury was always to be found, but to the people composing the middle rank in life, — the bone and sinew of every country.
Beginning in Italy, where elegance and beauty flourished long before they reached the ruder peoples of northern Europe, we find the chest was a necessity in every household, particularly the stout one of iron to hold the treasure of the family. There were no banks, and each man stored his ducats as safely as might be, some of them, like Shylock, finding them fly with a wayward daughter.
From the sixth century the Jewish merchants were noted for their wealth. They were the money-lenders of the world, and to them is due credit for establishing the system of bills of exchange. About 1183 orders to pay money to a particular person were in use among the merchants of Lombardy and the South of France. General letters of credit were common in the Levant by 1200, while bills of exchange regularly negotiable were mentioned as early as 1364; and by 1400 they were drawn in sets and worded exactly as they are now.
The earliest bank of deposit instituted for the accommodation of private merchants was at Barcelona in 1401; so it can be readily seen what an important article a chest was. In Figures 143 and 144 are given some of these iron treasure-chests with their ponderous locks and great handles, showing what heavy weights they were expected to sustain. They have both seen service, and belong to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, bringing up in this very new country after a world of voyaging.
General Washington's household chest, which may now be seen at the National Museum at Washington, is nearly identical with the chest shown in Figure 143 on the left, the one on the right being more like one of the coffers used in churches.
A very interesting work by Mr. Frederick Roe, called "Ancient Coffers and Cupboards," goes into the matter of the old chests exhaustively, and he divides them into four classes, passing over those which are entirely of iron, and beginning with those which for their strength and ornament depend largely on iron-work. The second class contains those which have painting as well as ironwork for decoration, while the third class are those which have fronts composed of upright slabs of wood, carved with ecclesiastical forms, like the smaller chest in Figure 144, which has a pattern of pillars and arches. Then, fourth, more secular chests, having on them knights and ladies, animals, etc., these subjects being incised or burnt in.
Throughout the fourteenth century there was a continued improvement all over Europe of what we denominate luxury and elegance, though Italy still presented the fairest picture of domestic life. The use of chimneys and glass in house-building are the two most important improvements in this century, and if the houses were so crude, it may be guessed how simple were their fittings. Indeed, everything tending towards luxury crept among the people slowly, and in the very matter of chimneys they were few and far between, the masons connected with the abbeys being the only ones who could build them, so that in the farmhouses they were not introduced till about the middle of the seventeenth century. King, writing in 1656 in " Vale Royal," says :
" In building and furniture of their houses, till of late years they used the old manner of the Saxons ; for they had their fire in the midst of the house, against a hob of clay, and their oxen under the same roof ; but within these forty year' they have builded chimneys."
It does not exactly appear what was kept in the church coffers, already mentioned, unless it was the treasures, — i. e., votive offerings and plate, and in most churches at this early period there was little enough of these. In Kennett's " Parochial Antiquities he says :
" Ela, Countess of Warwick, who died very aged, in the year 1600, was so great a friend to Oxford University, that she caused a common chest to be made, and did put into it two hundred and twenty marks ; out of which such as were poor scholars might upon security at any time borrow something gratis for their wants ; in consideration whereof, the University were obliged to celebrate certain masses every year in Saint Mary's Church. Which chest was in being in Edward Pith's time, and called by the name of Warwick chest."
Very few of these ancient church coffers are still in existence, and even those are housed in museums. Domestic chests have fared better, though few can be obtained prior to the Elizabethan period.
In 1572 Skipton Castle, the ancestral home of the Earls of Cumberland, and one of the most splendid mansions of the North of England, had but seven or eight beds, and in none of the chambers were there either chairs, carpets, or looking-glasses. The inventory of the entire contents of this castle is given in Strutt's " View of Manners," and shows not how much they had, but how much they had not.
But to go back a little. In 1450, and from that date until 1478, Dame Margaret Paston wrote a series of letters from the town of Norwich, England, where she was living, to her husband in London, which give many interesting details as to the dress, manners, and furniture of that time. She writes him in 1454 that she is about to send up to London his " trussing coffer," or clothes-chest, and says further, that " his meny rob his chamber and rifle his hutches "; " hutch " coming from " huche," a French coffer or chest standing upon legs.
A hutch, or coffer on legs, is shown in the next Figure (145), though of a later period than that of which Madam Paston writes. A panelled oak cupboard goes with it, still retaining the original ironwork hinges. In these hinges may be seen a pattern known as the S-curve, which was used in furniture decoration at an early period. It appeared in flat carving, at the tops and sides of chairs (see Figure 146), and was even used in architecture, the tops of the towers of Hard-wick Hall, England, built in 1590, showing it in perfection. On the two side panels of the hutch is a rosette, which frequently forms the central ornament in a design called the " guilloche," which is a pattern formed of a continuous line of circles, each enclosing a carved rosette. Frequently the larger circles have smaller ones alternating with them, or they may be compressed so that there is no room for the central ornament. Common though this form of ornament is on English furniture, the fact remains that it is of Italian origin, — that is, the use of it during the Renaissance period, for the Italians took it from the Byzantine ornaments and used it to great effect on the beautiful carved cassoni of the times. A good free rendering of the guilloche is found in the panel top of Figure 146; a wainscot chair, and the S-curve already mentioned can be seen at the sides.
Besides trussing coffers or chests, which took the place of trunks, and which were generally of stout oak planks iron-bound, there were others of more or less ornate character. The most important of these, at least in the eyes of the gentler sex, were those known as " marriage chests," generally bought while the daughters of the house were still children, and filled by degrees with linen and woollen cloth, woven under the careful eye of the mother.
In Figure 147 is one of these chests of Italian origin, which belonged to some noble and wealthy family. It is not hard to conjure up the store of fine linens, lace trimmed; the pieces of rich silk damask and cloth of gold; the Venice points and the lengths of velvet which were laid away year after year to swell the marriage portion of the daughter. Sometimes suitors who betrayed a tendency to lag could be made to show a more coming-on spirit by a view of the chests and their contents, which were the lady's dower.
Like almost everything else of Italian origin, the carved chests were extremely beautiful, whether of the Gothic period or of the more sumptuous Renaissance and later. The chest shown in Figure 147 is of carved oak. They were made of other woods as well, painted and gilded, inlaid sometimes with ivory, ebony, tortoise-shell, lapis Iazuli, or anything which the mind of the maker conceived would add to its beauty. On some of these old cassoni were painted figures and scenes by the famous artists of the times, sometimes portraying events in the life of the owner, but oftener, if for a bride, groups of flowers and cupidons, making these chests to-day as valuable as if wrought in gold.
Our old carved chest is sixty-six inches long by twenty-four in height, and has preserved its beauty almost unimpaired. No better example of the period which preceded the elaborate carving could be given than by the glimpse we get of the old Gothic chest on which it stands, the panels showing designs similar to those found in the stone-work of the church-windows of the same period.
The Venetian or Florentine bride not only had her rich clothes and linens, but her jewels were dealt out with a lavish hand. In the inventory of the trousseau of a fifteenth century bride of noble but not royal blood, the rich stuffs are calculated by the pound weight and the " great pearls " by the gross. In such a little chest or coffer as that shown in Figure 148 would these be kept, together with her girdles of gold and silver, her enamelled and jewelled garlands and buttons. There are still traces of gold and colours on this chest which could tell so much if it would, and there is a ponderous lock so that thieves should not break through and steal. There is a little of everything carved upon it, comic and tragic masks, cupids, scimitars, dragons, and gar-lands, yet done with so much skill that the result is in-finitely pleasing, as is almost everything of the florid period known as Renaissance.
But while these chests are interesting in every way, and are to be bought in this country, since it is known that we are becoming the collectors of the world, it is with homelier and less ornate articles of this class that our interest chiefly centres. When the Pilgrim Fathers and Mothers packed their scanty belongings and stowed them away in the hold of the Mayflower, their goods were mostly contained in chests, stout ones no doubt, and, I think we can say, entirely guiltless of carving. These chests for use in travelling were called " ship chests" or "standards," and were simple, box-like affairs with locks and no legs, and often with handles.
There were, even in those early days, some chests brought over which stood upon legs. The legs were formed by continuing the " stiles," as those boards -which hold the sides, back, and front are called. You can see them very plainly in Figure 149. The boards at top and bottom of the panels, in the top one of which is the keyhole, are called " rails." These are often carved, the stiles generally being left plain, or ornamented only with a slight moulding.
There are many chests like Figure 149 scattered over the country. This one is a " pick-up " near Rochester, New York, within a couple of years. It is of oak, --old English oak at that, — dark, solid, and heavy, so that the boards which make the bottom seem almost like iron. It is a joined chest. The nails which you see on the stiles were put there recently to prevent the chest from positively dropping apart from age. The date of this piece is between 1675-1700.
Another pattern of carving which was often used early in the seventeenth century was the design called " linen fold." It can be seen on the chest in Figure 150. This pattern was in use as early as 1480, and Mr. Robinson, in his work on " English Furniture," asserts that it was brought from France. It was at first very angular in treatment, but it became more and more flowing, and had, in the later years of its use, gouged work in addition. The pattern, although in vogue till the middle of the seventeenth century, was seen at its best only during a period of about eighty or a hundred years after its introduction. This chest has also a panelled top, as well as panelled sides, the panels being set in with a moulding instead of a bevelled edge, showing that this chest belongs to the first half of the seventeenth century. It is a fact that no two of these old hand-made chests resemble each other. They have slight differences as to dimensions, and marked ones as to decoration. It is all the more pleasing to be obliged to study closely before we can date our specimen, and it is usually safer to assign it to a century than to a more precise date.
While oak and pine were the woods ordinarily used for chests, olive-wood was rarely chosen, and sometimes cedar and cypress. The English-made chest was commonly of oak throughout, like this one, but when we came to build them — and we started cabinet-making as early as 1622 - we used pine for the parts that did not show, like back, sides, bottom, and often lid.
In Flanders many fronts of chests were elaborately carved and then sent to England to be fitted with the other parts. When the burghers were comfortably settled here and growing rich in the fur trade, they sent home for chests in which to store their goods, and many a rich " Kas " came in their low-lying, broad-hulked vessels.
The fronts of these Flanders chests were often carved in high relief with figures, heads, animals, or even lettering woven into a pattern, and were very hand-some. They are by no means so rare in this country as might be supposed; and in many cases the carved fronts have been removed from the chests and used for other purposes, as, for instance, setting in a mantel front, or in a panel, where they show to better advantage than in a chest.
Besides those that were carved there were others on which the ornamentation was of mouldings broadly splayed and bold in design, to which were added the turned drops of stained pear-wood, or of ebony, which were such favourites with the Dutch. Figure 151 shows a fine example of such a chest, and in addition to the two splayed panels, has a round arch for ornament in the centre.
Could anything be finer than the Dutch Kas shown in Figure 152? The date of this chest is approximately the same as that shown in Figure 149, but it is a very elegant article of its kind. There is a long drawer at the bottom; both sets of cupboards open, and there are shelves within. It must have taken the good vrouw and her daughter many years to grow the flax, hatchel, bleach, and spin the thread, and then weave it into linen cloth that must be bleached again many times before it came to the required whiteness which every good Dutch housewife considered necessary in her " Hollands."
The ball feet seen on this Kas were a Dutch design, copied both by the English and by us. Many plain chests are found in America with these ball feet like the one in Figure 153. This piece shows the first step in the evolution of the chest, for a drawer is added. Dr. Lyon says, in his book on "Colonial Furniture," that the first mention made of a one-drawer chest is in the inventory of the goods of the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, dated August, 1655. The value was given as sixteen shillings.
Sometimes this single drawer was divided, and in the earliest specimens the runners on which the drawer moved were on the sides of the chest, — not on the bottom, as came later. The sides of the drawer had a deep groove in them, and a stout runner was on the side of the chest.
With the appearance of drawers, mouldings, such as were popular for wainscots on walls, were more freely used, and such chests were called " wainscot-chests." There were other methods of ornamentation which gradually came in fashion as the chests mounted up-ward by the addition of drawers. Among these were what are called nail-head " bosses, and for these, as well as for a fretwork which was seldom more than an eighth or a quarter of an inch in thickness and was applied to the drawers, we are indebted to the Dutch. Such bosses can be seen on the chest of drawers given in Figure 154, where they are used in connection with both round and pear-shaped ornaments. These nail-heads are in this case distinctly for use, since they are but the tops of wooden pegs which answer the purpose of locking the drawers by turning a bolt. Few are so useful as these, however.
In Figure 155 is another style of chest, also of oak, but with splayed panels inlaid with bone and mother--of-pearl. Although this piece is dated 1541, it is probable that it was made somewhat later, since this style of ornament was made till as late as 1650. The handles point to the latter date also, and the chest does not need the added century to make it both interesting and beautiful. There is always a tendency to call such pieces as this Italian, but there is nothing about it which could not have been done in England, and it is known that inlaid furniture was made there at about this period.
The proportions of the early chests without drawers were about sixty inches long by twenty-four high. As the chests rose in height they decreased in length, so that they should not become too bulky.
The chests were almost always fitted with tills, either one or two, so that small articles could be conveniently stowed away.
The old inventories filed with wills are mines of in-formation regarding the belongings of our ancestors. I have read scores of them, and there is always a pathetic side to these musty old yellow papers, the owners usually had so few possessions. Leather breeches " half wore out," appears many times; " old quilts "; feather-beds, " not new," is another item, and in the earlier documents things are sometimes described as " damnified."
Colonel Epes's inventory, dated October 1, 1678, Henrico County, Virginia, contains numerous items which show him to have been a man of wealth and importance. Among them are these chests : " one old middle-sized chest, with lock and key ; one small old chest, with lock and key; two other old chests without keys, and one without hinges."
Sarah Oort, a rich and many-times-married widow, had at the time of her third marriage many elegant goods. Among them were three " chests of drawers," as chests with drawers began to be called. This was at New Amsterdam in 1691.
" One fine chest of drawers, of maple " (1703), is an item in another inventory, probably made of native wood by one of our own cabinet-makers.
By 1724 walnut, cherry, maple, poplar, hickory, pine, and ash were all being used, and in the larger centres comfort was by no means lacking. The pioneer, how-ever, still clung to his " Kist," since he could use it both by day and night, and hide within it his few valuables.
In a number of inventories in the early years of the nineteenth century I find mention of chests, showing how long they continued to be used. Lieutenant Ozias Cone, of Canandaigua, New York, had two in 1805. He valued them at a dollar each.
Dr. Samuel Dungan, of the same place, whose inventory was filed May 14, 1818, had many possessions; among them was " one large pine chest," valued at twenty-five cents. He also specifies a lot of bones, five dollars "! Could this have been the family skeleton?
Of course, our cabinet-makers made just such furniture as they had been accustomed to make " in the old country." It was only in occasional instances that one branched out for himself.
Figure 156 shows such an example, for though it is apparently a small bureau, it is in reality a two-drawer chest. What appears to be two small upper drawers and the long one below them are but mouldings fastened on the front of the chest, which takes up the whole upper half of the piece.
This is a very old piece; the handles are of an early variety of the willow pattern, and fastened in with wires. It is the only piece of the kind I have ever seen, and is interesting in every way.
There are other chests, made by one man and his assistants, it is most probable, which occupy a place quite by themselves; and it is well to describe these chests before we pass on to the final steps in the growth of the chest.
In Figure 157 is given what is known to collectors as the " Connecticut chest," from the fact that so many of this pattern have been found in that State, — about fifty in all. It is a two-drawer chest of elaborate de-sign, the turned ornaments being stained black, and the patterns on the panels carved in low relief, the two end ones showing conventionalised tulips and the centre a sunflower.
Many of these chests are built on the American plan, with pine tops, bottoms, and backs; but this chest, which is in Memorial Hall, Deerfield, Massachusetts, has a top of oak like the front and sides. It is forty inches high, forty-eight inches long, and twenty-two inches in breadth. The same style of decoration has been found on chests with but one drawer, which probably emanated from the same workshop. The date assigned to this chest is from 1675-1690, the shape of the mouldings and turned ornaments dating from about that period.
The owner of this chest is Dr. A. M. Kenney, of Boston, Massachusetts. His father has written to me concerning it, and starts a new theory regarding it. He says :
" This chest was brought to Greenfield, Mass., by my great grandmother, and had belonged to her mother and probably another generation preceding. I am in receipt of a letter from a lady in Cleveland, Ohio, who owns one like it, who de-sires to know where they were made, saying also that tradition makes it to have been made in Scotland, and brought to America about 1700. My father in 1843 was a warrant officer in the U. S. Navy, and while stationed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, visited a disused convent in that city, in each cell of which was an oak chest, nearly if not quite like this one."
No doubt the American maker copied a chest which he had brought from England, or perhaps made his own plans from memory of what he had made in the old country, so that there was a strong resemblance between those of domestic and those of foreign make.
There is still another style of chest belonging to a special locality, quite different from the one already shown. In Figure 158 you may see the " Hadley chest," so called because they are found in and near the town of Hadley. While made of oak, these chests are still further ornamented by being gaily painted or stained. As they were known as " dower chests," no doubt an effort was made to have them unusually hand-some on the bride's account. Like the Connecticut chests, the Hadley ones are always of exactly the same pattern, the middle panel being carved with the initials of the owner. The " S. H." seen in Figure 158 stood for Sarah Hawks, who was married in 1726.
The low relief carving extends over the whole chest, the carved part being stained red, and the natural colour of the oak forming a background. The front only is carved, the sides being panelled. Looking on this old chest, which is also at Deerfield, one can imagine how proud the bride must have been who owned one. How she must have toiled to fill one ever so scantily with linen and woollen cloth, and some bits of " 500-muslin," which was the desire of every woman, — to be made in caps and kerchiefs!
Not far away from this chest is the door of one of the early Deerfield homes, driven full of huge spikes to repel the attacks of " ye barbarous enemy," who, even so, managed to cleave the door with their murderous tomahawks.
The owner of this chest has mouldered into dust years and years ago, yet you may lay your hand on her " dower chest " and conjure up before your mind her satisfaction in it, her hopes and fears as she filled it and carried it with her into her new home.
After the three-drawer chests, of which this is such an interesting example, the next step in the upward flight of the chest was a marked one. They began now to be mounted on legs of turned wood, — six in number, four in front and two behind, connected by curved stretchers. The one shown in Figure 159 is an early specimen, made probably about 1700-1710, of walnut veneered with walnut and having the early drop-handles. Two very good indications of the age of a piece of furniture are the handles and mouldings, while the feet, as a general rule, point more to its nationality.
The drop-handles on this chest are solid, but the drops also come hollowed out at the back and indicate an earlier period. These are fastened into the drawer by a piece of wire which is twisted together on the inside. The plate through which the handle passes may be round, or diamond-shaped, or in curves, and while sometimes cut, it is more often stamped out. This is an early style of handle.
The first mouldings used to surround the drawers are quite plain; they became double after a little while, and sometimes, when used to form the top or cornice, quite heavy. The very earliest specimens of these chests on frames had but one drawer, instead of three, at the bottom, and the lower edge was in a single curve instead of a triple one.
Little by little numerous changes were wrought in these chests on frames, and the straight turned leg disappeared. Then presently two legs were dropped, and then the curved stretchers.
The places of the two missing legs in many standing chests, as they are sometimes called, is to be seen supplied by a drop ornament of a more or less ornamental character. Occasionally the place is finished off square with a little moulding.
The cabriole, or bandy-leg, became popular, and was finished either with the plain Dutch foot or with the ball and claw.
An example of the early bandy-legged high-boy of Flemish make is given in Figure 160. Although it has not very graceful proportions, it is rendered most ornamental by its beautiful floral marquetry, showing tulips, carnations, and passion-flowers in different coloured woods in a mahogany ground. By 1700 the importations of foreign woods had given an impetus to what was called " smooth-faced " furniture, — that is, what was inlaid, veneered, or enriched with marquetry, — in distinction to furniture where the decoration protruded from the surface, as in carved or panelled work.
What veneering is we all know, — the covering of an inferior wood with thin strips of a choicer kind, so that the whole base is concealed. Inlay is an enriching with wood of another colour, or with metals, stones, bone, ivory, mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell, or anything that could be utilised by the skilful worker.
The line of demarkation between marquetry and inlay is not very sharply drawn, but marquetry is apt to cover entirely the baser wood, the decorative arrangement being used in what is called " reserves." In few pieces is the marquetry so large and the ground so small as in our example in Figure 160. As may be noted, the ground forms just a frame for the marquetry on the drawers, while the usual rule was to have, say, two reserves on a drawer, each of them oval or round in shape, and allowing a large portion of the ground wood to show. Where you find a tulip entering into the decoration of a piece of furniture, you may generally ascribe it to the Dutch, particularly if the ornamentation is conceived in a free and flowing pattern.
As will be seen from the examples, nearly all these later pieces which we call " high-boys " were really chest-on-chest of drawers, or chest on tables. Some-times these two pieces of furniture became separated, and the lower part, if in table form, was called a dressing-table, and used for that purpose. Such a derelict is shown in Figure 161, and must have been a part of a very stately piece of furniture. The ages of these chests and high-boys can be roughly guessed by the drawers.
First came those which had heavy splayed mouldings, with applied ornaments of turned drops and beadings. The framework around the drawers was beaded or moulded. Second were the oak or walnut pieces, veneered or not, with plain drawers and double beaded frame. Third came the moulded drawers with plain frames ; and last were the drawers which were moulded but not projecting, the edge of the drawer lapping over the frame so that the opening did not show.
At first the tops of the high-boys were flat, finished with a small, plain moulding. By degrees this moulding grew heavier, and was sometimes wide enough to carry a long drawer ; then it rose into a curve, and the " broken arch " top was put on choice pieces made of mahogany or cherry. At the ends of the cornice and in the middle were placed ornaments of either brass or turned wood, urns, flames, or points, according to the taste of the maker; and now the simple " trussing coffer " of the fourteenth century reached its highest expression in the " chest-on-chest " of the eighteenth century.
Figure 162 gives a very beautiful example of a mahogany chest-on-chest, which is a highly prized ornament of a Vermont home. It has its original brasses and top ornaments, the handle brasses being beautifully engraved. This chest-on-chest has a line of inlay about the drawers, and the shell carved in the lower drawer is done in a piece of solid wood and is very handsome.
Our cabinet-makers seldom indulged in very much inlaid work; a line of whitewood, holly, or satinwood usually contented them; or in some cases a double line of whitewood and ebony was sparingly used. They did use carving more freely, and these old pieces have a look of solidity and a certain irregularity which is often found in handwork when the maker did not give any too great attention to accuracy of measurement. There is an old oak cupboard of the seventeenth century in the rooms of the Antiquarian Society at Concord, which is infinitely pleasing in form. This has been copied within recent years by first-class cabinet-makers, who used the greatest care in their work, and the reproductions, while following in shape and colour the hardy old original, have lost the very thing which gives it half its charm.
The cupboard at Concord is very similar to the one in Figure 163, and is really that piece of furniture of which we often read and seldom see, called a " court cupboard." The old-time mentions of it always refer to it as being set out with the store of plate, beakers, tankards, etc., which its owner possessed. In Harrison's " Description of England," which has been quoted before, the mention is made of the farmer having pewter " on his cupboard." In many inventories references are made to cupboards of various styles, — such as wainscot, livery, court, joined, press, and what is variously known as a butter cupboard, or a trencher-bread cupboard. Such a one is given in Figure 164, which is in shape a court cupboard, but has the holes bored in one of the divisions so that the air may enter and keep the food within pure and sweet. Trencher bread was a very important article in the household in Elizabethan times and was generally called " manchet." It was made of wheat, and Harrison, in his " Description of England," says :
" Of bread of wheat we have sundry sorts daily brought to the table, whereof the first and most excellent is the manchet, which we commonly call white bread, in Latin, primarius panis; and our good workmen deliver commonly such proportion that of the flour of one bushel with another they make forty cast of manchet, of which every loaf weigheth eight ounces into the oven, and six ounces out."
It was to keep the trencher bread dry that the cup-board was pierced. This cupboard is a fine one, — of oak, with some good carving upon it, and the original hinges. Upon the shelf in front of the upper doors was room for a row of plate or pewter, and even on the top beakers and jugs which were not in common use could be displayed.
The livery cupboard was really a set of shelves with-out doors. Mr. Litchfield, in his " History of Furniture," quotes from a record in the British Museum for some joiners' work which was done at Hengrave about 1518, in which " livery cupboards " are specified. " Ye cobards they be made ye facyon of livery y is wthout doors."
Two other very splendid cupboards are given in Figures 165 and 166, the former covered with a beautiful fretwork. This piece dates to about 1630 and has still the ornate hinges and clumsy handles with which it started. It is of oak, and the handles and hinges are of iron, as they should be. The last cupboard or cabinet (it can be called by either name) is handsome of its kind, but be-longs to the seventeenth century. It is of oak, and belongs to the Water's collection of Salem, Massachusetts.
The built-in cupboards are often charming, but are generally the work of the carpenter rather than the cabinet-maker. They were made either with doors or without, and the choicest which can be found in this country are those which have a great shell forming a concave top. In many of the old houses cupboards such as these still can be found, often incorporated with the wainscot, and I have seen particularly choice ones in Deerfield, Massachusetts, as well as in Concord, and at Salem in the same State.