As we in the States prepare for the fun and festivities of Fourth of July weekend, we experience a swell of pride for all things American. (And we at Baker celebrate our American-made furniture in particular!) Our furniture experts here are full of fun facts — so we asked them to provide a few about early American designs. Enjoy!
Fun fact #1: The doors on American cabinets were often made with thirteen individual panes.
Elite American cabinetmakers, with even more elite patrons, celebrated independence by honoring the thirteen original states as a part of daily life. Such elegant cabinets, and the books they held, were intended to make a statement— about wealth, erudition, and liberty.
Fun fact #2: After the signing of the Constitution, the eagle became a common symbol of freedom in America.
Just how common? Well, this particular cupboard resided in a popular tavern around the time its Ohio home became a state! The eagle was a unique symbol of both freedom earned through revolution and freedom discovered on the frontier.
Fun fact #3: Each American colony had its own, sometimes entirely unique, cabinetmaking tradition.
We’ll give you two examples!
The chest-on-chest-on-chest was the invention of Charleston, South Carolina cabinetmaking legend Thomas Elfe. It celebrated portability as a fact of life rather than lifestyle (as it was easier to move three smaller pieces than one large one). The well-traveled elite of this international city often moved to summer homes (or elsewhere) as the seasons changed.
Far to the north in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the two-tone chest—largely unknown elsewhere — was an example of necessity, and availability, being the mother of invention. Cabinetmakers in this colony didn’t have access to some of the more exotic wood species available in other colonies (such as those with ports involved with the triangular trade) — so in an attempt to make their cabinets look more interesting, they used two types of wood in their designs.
Hope you enjoyed our trivia! Have a safe and happy Fourth (whatever your nationality)!