Jacobean furniture - Table of Contents............... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Jacobean furniture
Reprinted from
Edgar G. Miller, Jr., American Antique Furniture, 1937, Vols. 1 & 2

Click on illustrations for larger size


Wainscot chair

These heavy oak chairs, made after the English models, are regarded as the finest of the four [first chairs that were made in this country: three-legged, wainscot, Carver and Brewster], and are believed to have been made about 1650.

Observing No. 22, we see that the back is decorated with carving of somewhat the same character as on some of the chests of the period; and that the under part of the seat rail is also carved.

The original seats of these chairs were of wood; but in this chair a leather seat has been inserted, and a portion of the back has a leather panel, both no doubt because the seat and the panel had been damaged and repairs were made with the more comfortable material.

This chair has descended to the present owner with the tradition that it came from Virginia. Probably about 1650.




Wainscot chair

No. 23 also is reputed to have come from Virginia. It is of a plainer type than No. 22, having no carving. This chair is all original except the cresting on the top of the back, the tops of the back legs and the bottoms of the feet.

Probably about l650.




Cane chair

Examining No. 35 .... we see that the top of the back of the chair is ornamented with a carved and pierced cresting which does not extend to the side lines of the chair, but is between the two finials....

The "stiles", that is, the two upright posts on the sides of the back ... are in a turned "spiral" form; so also are the back legs and two of the stretchers, partly. The lower stretcher is "recessed", that is, set back from the front, and connects the side stretchers instead of connecting the front legs.

About 1660-1680.




Cane chair

No. 36 [has] cresting not extending to the sidelines. It is known as the William Penn chair as it is believed that it was brought by Penn from England in 1699 when he made a second voyage to his Pennsylvania.

The two "stiles" are "turned" as in No. 35, but not in a spiral form. At the top is the cresting with two scrolls in the form of the letter "C" in a recumbent position, known from their shape as "C-scrolls"; six of the same scrolls are on the framework around the narrow cane; and two others are on the front stretcher. The front legs and feet are in the form known as " Flemish-scrolled".

About 1690-1700.





The carved cresting on the back at the end, and the carved stretchers between the legs, are in the styles seen in the cane chair No. 36, which were of about the same period. The cane in the back and the seat will be noticed.

The length of the three divisions made by the legs and stretchers about equal the width of the seats of three chairs.

Some of these day-beds of this type have scrolled feet in the Flemish style, such as are seen in the cane chairs mentioned. These early day-beds are seldom seen outside of museums.

About 1670-1680.
. .



Chest without drawers is more ornamental than some others, being carved "all over" the front. The central one of the three panels has leaves and scrolls, and the two outer panels have a decoration known as the "tulip decoration".

As in other chests, the top lifts up. The very sturdy appearance of this chest will be noticed.

About 1650-1675.





No.596 has one wide drawer, which has the appearance of being two separate drawers.

The carving on the three panels is in a rectangular design with four circular designs on the sides, and other carvings will be noticed above and below the panels. Bands of dark wood are on the uncarved upright and horizontal portions of the front.

The probable date of this chest is believed to be the same as that of the preceding chest, about 1650-1675.




"Court" cupboard

No. 908 is a"court" cupboard. The distinctive feature of this type of cupboard is that the upper portion is enclosed and the lower portion is open.

The ends of both portions are supported by large and heavy columns. In the upper portion are two compartments with paneled doors, between which is a panel with two applied ornamental columns.

In the central portion are two drawers. The skirt, or apron, of the lower shelf is cut in cyma curves.

These cupboards are seldom found and are quite valuable. About 1650-1675.



"Press" cupboard

No. 909 is a "press" cupboard. In this type of early cupboard there are compartments or drawers in the lower portion as well as in the upper. Here the compartment in the upper portion is made with sloping sides. Two arches are on each of the sides.

As in the preceding cupboard the top is supported by heavy columns.

In this piece the lower portion is occupied by three drawers, forming a chest of drawers.

The paneling of the three drawers and the nine pairs of blackened vertical columns upon them will be noticed.

More of these pieces have been found than the court cupboards, but they are seldom offered for sale.

At the center of the base are the figures"1699", doubtless indicating the year when the piece was made.





No. 910 is a "kas" which was a Dutch form of clothes cupboard; the name often appears in the inventories of the estates of the early Dutch owners in NewYork and New Jersey.

The kas was a large piece of furniture and was made in several forms often painted in gay designs and bright colors.

The noticeable features in this kas are the large overhanging cornice, the paneled front, the two doors in the upper portion, the two drawers in the lower portion and the ball feet. The wood is walnut.

About 1700-1750.




"Clothes" cupboard

No. 911 is a clothes cupboard of a type made from about 1725 to 1750.

The cornice has an elaborate series of moldings, and another molding is on the top of the lower portion.

On the four doors are four large arched panels and on each side of the doors are narrow arched panels, not well seen in the illustration; these eight panels are all "applied" on the frame.

The feet are of the same type as those seen on many of the desks, bureaus and secretaries... known as "ogee" bracket feet.

The keyhole escutcheons and the H hinges are original and are in the style of those seen on other articles of the period.

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