An example of a wine-cooler and also a pair of knife-boxes is given in Figure 12. Indeed, in convivial days, these wine-coolers were very important parts of dining- room furniture, and were arranged to hold six, eight, or twelve bottles; and one holding eighteen bottles belonged to General George Washington himself, and is now in the possession of some of his descendants, with a large number of the bottles which stood in little compartments, intact, and each capable of holding a gallon.
Major Church, of Rochester, New York, has an autograph letter from General Washington, addressed to Colonel Hamilton, in which he says that he is sending him a wine-cooler capable of holding six bottles, one of four which I imported during my term of gov ernmental administration." There were elegancies of many kinds at Mount Vernon, and the General himself looked after the furnishings of the house, as well as after the purchasing of his own, Madam Washington's, and Miss Custis' clothes. These were imported from England, and were bought by his factors in London in pursuance of minute directions given in the voluminous letters which the General wrote with his Own hand and despatched by every ship. The very " minikin " pins with which the clothes of Nelly Custis were to be fastened were not too small items for his attention, and he gave special orders for her doll to be dressed in the "newest fashion."
He took advantage of every opportunity to better and increase the household articles at Mount Vernon, and it is strange to think of this truly great man bidding at auction for pickle-pots, bolsters, pillows, and bottles, as he did when the contents of the splendid mansion of the Fairfax's, " Belvoir," on the Potomac, was sold at auction. Among the expensive pieces of furniture, nearly all of them mahogany, which he bought on this occasion, was " 1 mahogany sideboard, £12 5," showing that fine pieces of furniture brought good prices even then. He bought side tables as well, and his dining-room must have been a digni fied and elegant apartment, even if the meals were a trifle solemn.
Hepplewhite also excelled in a style of work which was called " tambour," which consisted of small strips of wood pasted on heavy cloth. This rolled up in a hollow space, and he used it on desks, work-tables, and sideboards. See Figure 13.
Figure 14 shows a style that is not unusual, and is known as Sheraton, whether made in England or here. It comes in both solid and veneered mahogany, and with inlay or without. This example has some very pretty inlay of whitewood which spreads out into fans on the cupboard doors. In the two lower drawers are spaces for the wine bottles, and I haA^e seen some examples like this which had the drawers lined with zinc, making them air-tight. Some of the early side boards by Shearer and Sheraton have brass rails at the back and sides. They are very pretty, but by no means common. You will find many patterns for such in their books of designs.
In Figure 15 a piece is shown in Sheraton style, and this board is interesting in all its details, besides being one of those treasures which fell into the hands of its Owier at a cost so delightfully small that it seems well- nigh incredible. This picture was sent me by a col lector who has had remarkable success in filling her whole house with equally choice pieces of old furniture, and while the description of this piece is carefully written on the back of the photograph, the Owter has neglected to add her name, and I have lost the accom panying letter. I should place the date of this piece at about 1800, as the handles are rosettes and the feet are of the pattern popular at that time. This side board, besides having solid doors, which even in the photograph show their beautiful graining, has a strip of satinwood which extends the vrfiole length of the board above the drawers. There was also a place for the wine-cooler, and the bottle drawers are air-tight.
In addition to the straight sideboard which stood against the wail there were those which were made to stand in corners, and thus take up less room. In fact the first sideboards made by Shearer had their tops the shape of a half circle, and the flat side stood against the wail. These were almost without exception veneered and inlaid, and some of the most costly and choice were beautifully painted with figures and scenes on the top, but I have never seen one like this in this country, at least one of the veritable old ones. The simple corner ones, however, are to be found here, of excellent workmanship and of fine wood. One is shown in Figure 16.
This choice piece, of mahogany inlaid, has the escutcheons of ivory, which always gave a look of ele gance to the furniture to which they were applied. The date of this piece is about 1770, or in that neigh borhood, and it is owned in Vermont, where some years ago there was much fine furniture to be had. Even remote parts of the State now, patriotic and his torical societies have been organized, and these are gathering the antiques and preserving them, so that the individual collector has a smaller chance to secure the objects for which he pines. The sideboard in Figure 16 is a typical piece of this style, but in Figure 17 is given one in which the individual maker has giVen expression to his Own ideas. This, too, is of mahogany, with a slightly curved front and flat sides, and with a modified form of French foot. The age of the piece is not to be judged by the handles, which have been recently put on and are modern. It is a pity that better ones were not secured, since the piece is otherwise in excellent condition. I saw one of these sideboards the other day, which had been " cleared out" by a woman who was moving and who sold it for two dollars. There is more of the story, however, for it cost the purchaser fifty dollars to get it restored. The sideboard in Figure 17 has a prettily curved front, almost serpentine, different from the half circle which these boards usually have. It has the board at the bottom, which was so much used at the end of the eighteenth century, but I think the shelves were a later addition. Even so, it is an agreeable piece of furni ture and an ornament to any room.
There has been a great exhibition of old furniture at the South Kensington Museum, London. much shown which had a deal of history connected with it. Who could help " thrilling"when he saw a chair which some monarch or great person had used famil iarly, and upon which he could gaze his fill? Many of the objects were undoubtedly some of the choicest relics in England, and worthy of the highest respect, but there were others that caused you to smile, even if you did come from the home of the youngest nation, where anything is antique that survives our chop and change for fifty years. Every object had attached to it the label made out by the Owner, and we are not the only ones avIio add years and years of age to our pos sessions. There were pieces of furniture marked with the name of Chippendale, and their date set down as 1720, when the great maker was but a lad at his mother's knee. You cannot always trust a collector's estimate of his Own possessions, and the only safe way is to study them yourself, and then draw your own conclusions, always taking care to keep them to your self if they do not agree with the statements of the Owner. If you attempt to set him or her right you will only get yourself disliked.