Wooden antiques

Games tables

Thumbnail image for Games tables

This table is a fine example of the 18th century fashion for specialised furniture designed to suit particular interests and hobbies. It’s beautifully crafted by a skilled cabinet-maker for a client with plenty of money. Look at the inlay work in the games boards, the edgings, the pairs of dice – and all over. Set […]

Read more

Card tables and a social life

antique card table

Many finely-crafted card tables were made in the 1700s and 1800s. The social lives of prosperous families in America, Britain, and other parts of Europe depended on having a card table, or two, for friends to play at in the evening. Before 1700, card-playing was popular with very rich people, and less so with people […]

Read more

Using a dough box or kneading trough

dough box kneading bin

If you’ve ever made bread, how much flour did your recipe call for? One pound? One kilo? Just enough for one or two tasty loaves? You need to get into a different mindset to understand a dough box. (Also called dough bin, dough trough, kneading trough or tray, with or without a lid and/or legs.) […]

Read more

Early American candlestands: light at the right height

Threaded candlestand adjustable

When you’re working by candlelight you want as much light on your sewing or reading as possible, but you don’t want to waste candlewax or tallow. It helps if you can raise or lower the light to suit the task, or to allow for the candle getting shorter. Colonial Americans and their descendants left behind […]

Read more

Rocking cradles – wood or wicker

wicker rocking cradle

Cradle designs have changed, but are parents’ concerns any different? 200 years ago people were writing about the well-known dilemma: how much can I let my baby sleep in the day without stopping it from sleeping well at night? It only remains…to say something of the cradle…I believe there is no doubt but the custom […]

Read more

Hanging salt boxes

antique wooden hanging salt box

Hanging salt boxes used to be taken for granted in kitchens throughout northern Europe and colonial America. There they were, on the wall next to where you cooked. The pictures on this page are all European, but salt boxes were an essential part of life for settlers in North America too. They pounded salt lumps […]

Read more

Antique work tables for sewing and crafts

Victorian needlework table

Before the 18th century ladies used to keep their needlework projects in a work-basket or bag. Then furniture designers started to create elegant little tables for the drawing room with a silk work-bag or box-holder hanging beneath. You have only to look at one to understand why Sheraton, the famous cabinet-maker, called his designs pouch […]

Read more

Love tokens and betrothal gifts carved from wood

Lithuanian distaff

I keep coming across nicely carved antiques that were made to be useful, while the decoration shows they were designed as courtship, engagement or marriage gifts. The idea of handmade love tokens is still alive today: especially the tradition of carving love spoons. Craftspeople who make them often use longstanding folk art designs that evolved […]

Read more

Medieval and Renaissance combs

17th century comb

The most beautiful combs owned by ladies in late medieval and Renaissance times were highly ornamented in between their two rows of teeth. They look special, and they are. Some of the best were given as love tokens, and the fine, lacy carving included mottos, hearts, dates or initials. Did the young ladies use their […]

Read more

Metamorphic library steps, chairs and tables

convertible chair plus steps

In the 18th century wealthy men with private libraries in their grand houses wanted elegant furniture around them. The upmarket cabinet-makers of the period created fine desks and chairs, but how could they design new, improved versions of the step-ladders needed for reaching books from the highest shelves? One idea was to conceal steps under […]

Read more