Dictionary of English Pieces - Foot Stools, Gateleg Tables, Gout Stools, Knife Boxes, Lanterns

Foot Stools

These came into use at the end of the eighteenth century, and continued to be popular from then onwards. The upholstered tops were often covered in needlework.

Gate-leg Tables

These tables, which have the distinctive feature of a gate- like hinged leg to support the top flap, have been made continuously in one form or another from at least the seventeenth century until today. The earliest were made of oak and are rare, but those of the middle and later years of the seventeenth century can be found sometimes. They vary in size from a large dining table some seven feet in length to small tea tables about three feet in diameter. In most instances the supports are turned. Somewhat similar tables were made also of walnut, but these are scarce. Small mahogany gate-leg tables are often of a type known as 'spider leg', because of their thin supports. Many gate-leg tables were made in Victorian times, when this method of construction was very popular.

Gout Stools

Stools that have adjustment to raise or lower their tops were made from about 1790 for the relief of sufferers from gout. Another pattern, of 'X'- shaped construction, with thick padding, was made at about the same date.

Knife Boxes

Cases, with hinged lids, for holding knives, spoons and forks, were made of wood or of wood covered in shagreen (fish skin). Although existing from the middle of the seventeenth century, most of the surviving examples are of eighteenth-century date and made of inlaid mahogany. The most popular type had a sloping top and serpentine-shaped front, but others in the form of a vase on a foot are sometimes seen. Some of the latter were made from satinwood, inlaid or painted.


We do not usually think of a hall-lantern as a piece of furniture, but Chippendale has designs for them in his Director, and one made to his pattern is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Old wood ones are very rare, but gilt metal examples, especially of Adam design, are to be seen. Many of them date from long after the eighteenth century.

Collectable Antiques: