Dictionary of English Pieces - What - nots. Wine - Coolers and Cellarets. Window Seats. Work Tables. Writing Tables

What-nots

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

Wine-Coolers and Cellarets

A wine-cooler is a receptacle for cooling wine, a cellaret for storing a few bottles of it. The essential difference is that a cellaret usually has a cover and the cooler has not. They both came into use about 1730, and were made of mahogany with a lead lining. Some were inlaid elaborately or mounted in cast gilt metal, but the majority were bound with plain bands of brass.

Window Seats

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

Work Tables

A small table with a hinged top concealing spaces for sewing accessories, which was introduced late in the eighteenth century. Many have a silk-covered hanging bag, and the top is sometimes inlaid with squares for chess. Many were elaborately made and highly finished with painting and inlay.

Writing Tables

There is confusion between writing tables and desks, but the latter are generally those with tiers of drawers to the ground, whereas a writing table is on tall legs. These were made throughout the eighteenth century, but became more popular towards the end of the period. About 1790, the Carlton House type was introduced; this has rounded ends at the back with low tiers of drawers facing the writer. Not a great number would seem to have been made, and surviving old examples are very rare. Mostly they are of mahogany, but a few are known in satinwood. Copies have been made since about 1900, and these may deceive the unwary.



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