Dictionary of English Pieces - Chiffonier, Coasters, Coffee Tables, Commode, Console Tables, Cradles


A small bookcase or cupboard with an upper part of open shelves. A decorative piece of furniture that was first made about 1800, and continued to be popular throughout the nineteenth century.


Wine-coasters are stands for bottles or decanters for use at the dining-table. Some took the form of wooden trays with rims, others were of japanned papier-mache, silver or plate. Cheese coasters were usually made of mahogany and date from about 1790. They are boat-shaped with a square base raised on small casters. Today, they are rarely used to hold the large round cheeses for which they were designed, but have a fresh lease of life as fruit containers.

Coffee Tables

While any small and low table can be, and is, called a coffee table, the term is applied particularly to the sets of three or four tables made from about 1790; of which the latter were called 'quartetto tables'. As their name implies, they were made in sets of four, and were so designed that each slid into the other. When so placed they took up no more room than the largest. Made in mahogany and in rosewood, they have been in production almost continuously and old sets are scarce.


This is a French word describing a type of chest of drawers made in that country. In England, it was applied in the eighteenth century to pieces of furniture designed in the style of Louis XV or Louis XVI, and fitted with drawers or with doors to form a cupboard. Such pieces were highly decorated with carving, marquetry, lacquer or inlay, and would have had pride of place in the most important room of a house.

Console Tables

Tables made for fixing against a wall and having no legs at the back. They came into fashion early in the eighteenth century, and were made often in pairs.


These small beds for children were usually made to swing; achieved either by mounting them on rockers, or suspending them in a framework. Early ones of oak are rare, but eigh- teenth-century specimens made of mahogany are sometimes to be seen.

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