Dictionary of English Pieces - Cupboards and Wardrobes

Cupboards and Wardrobes. Cupboards for the storage of clothes and linen were made from the fifteenth century onwards; until the late seventeenth century they were usually of oak and with the doors divided into panels. They are rare, as are the walnut ones made about 1700. Mahogany cupboards and wardrobes are more plentiful, but being large in size they are not greatly in demand for use in the smaller rooms of present-day homes. The eighteenth-century wardrobe often had the upper part with sliding shelves enclosed within doors, and the lower part with drawers.

In this form it is called today a Gentleman's Wardrobe, and in many instances the insides of the drawers and the upper shelves have been removed to make hanging-space for clothes. In the later years of the century, the mahogany cupboards were inlaid, and others were veneered with satinwood or made of pine and painted.

Court cupboards of oak were made in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They consist of open shelves with supports at the corners; the front ones carved. Hall or livery cupboards were made during the same years, and have doors to the upper and lower parts. For many years there has been confusion between court and livery cupboards, but at the moment of writing the above descriptions are the accepted ones.

Corner cupboards of three-cornered shape and with flat or bowed fronts, were made in the eighteenth century. They exist in oak, walnut, mahogany and pine; the latter painted or lacquered. Many are decorated with inlay, but rare specimens have carved and gilt ornament.

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