Early American Copper, Tin and Brass

The Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 Volume I

Customs and Fashions in Old New England

cushions, upon which to sit while at the Governor's board; and seven chairs, gay with needlework covers, to draw around his fireplace with its shining paraphernalia of various sized andirons, tongs, and bellows. The low, heavy-raftered room with these plentiful seats, the tables with their Turkey covers, the picturesque cupboard with its rich cloth, and its display of the Governor's silver plate, all aglow with the light of a great wood fire, make a pretty picture of comfortable simplicity, pleasant of contemplation in our bric-a-brac filled days, a fit setting for the figures of the Governor, "New England's glory full of warmth and light," and his dearest, greatest, best of temporal enjoyments, his "vertuous, prudent and prayerful wife."

Contemporary inventories make more clear and more positive still this picture of a planter's home-room, for similar furniture is found in all. All the halls had cisterns for water or for wine (and I fancy they stood on the small table usually mentioned); all had a table for serving meals; a majoritiy had the cupboard; a few had "picktures" or "lookeing glasses;" very rarely a couch or "day-bed" was seen; some had "lanthorns" as well as candlesticks; others a spinning-wheel for the good wife, when she "keepit close the house and birlit at the wheel."

Chairs were a comparatively rare form of furniture in New England in early colonial days, nor were they frequently seen in humble English homes of that date. Stools and forms were the common seats. Turned, wainscot, and covered chairs are the three distinct types mentioned in the seventeenth century. Turned chairs are shown in good examples in what are known as the Carver and Brewster chairs, now preserved in Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth. The president's chair at Harvard College is another ancient turned chair.

The seats of many of these chairs were of flags and rushes. The bark of the elm and bass trees was also used for bottoming chairs.

The wainscot chairs were all of wood, seats as well as backs, usually of oak. They were frequently carved or panelled. One now in Pilgrim Hall is known as the Winslow chair. Another fine specimen in carved oak is in the Essex Institute in Salem. Carved chairs were owned only by persons of wealth or high standing, and were frequently covered with "redd lether" or "Rusha lether." Sometimes the leather was stamped and different rich fabrics were employed to cover the seats. "Turkey wrought" chairs are frequently mentioned. Velvet "Irish stitch," red cloth, and needlework covers are named. Green appeared to be, however, the favorite color.

Cane chairs appeared in the last quarter of the century. It is said that the use of cane was introduced into furniture with the marriage of Charles II. to Catharine of Braganza.

The bow-legged chair, often with claw and ball foot, came into use in the beginning of the eighteenth century. "Crowfoot" and "eaglesfoot" were named in inventories. These are copies of Dutch shapes.

Easy-chairs also appeared at that date, usually as part of the bedroom furniture, and were covered with

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