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MISS SINGLETON, in her exhaustive book "Furniture of Our Forefathers," says that probably the first pieces of furniture that were landed on the shores of the Hudson came in the ship Fortune, and were brought by Hendrich Christiansen, of Cleep, who founded a little settlement of four houses and thirty persons in 1615. A little later came the Tiger, The Little Fox, and the Nightingale, all bringing colonists and their household furniture. The early Dutch settlers were better fitted to start an infant colony than their New England brothers. The Dutch were ever colonizers and knew just how to plan and prepare a settlement. The trouble with the Indians was not so constant as it was with the New England colonies, although on one occasion New Amsterdam was almost wiped out. On the whole, the Dutch seem to have treated the Indians more wisely, buying the lands of them and having the purchase further confirmed by grants. In New Amsterdam the settlers were comfortably fixed, comparatively speaking, long before the New England colonists were, for they had a sawmill in operation as early as 1627, the machinery for which had been sent from Holland, and which was worked by wind-power.
The Dutch settled at Albany and its neighbourhood and around Schenectady, as well as those at New Amsterdam, had many creature comforts. In 1643 Albany was a colony of about one hundred persons living in about thirty rough board houses. By 1689 the number of inhabitants had increased to 700 and the houses to 150. During the next ten years the improvements were rapid and wonderful; gardens grew, filled with flowers and fruit; the class of houses improved; wealthy merchants came to such a rich market (of furs chiefly); and the Dutch city grew apace, and the fine beaver-skins which were so plenty bought luxuries for the pioneers. That luxury is not too strong a word to use is shown by the splendid carved kas shown in Figure 12, which now belongs to the Albany Historical Society, and is a piece of furniture which may date back as far as the last quarter of the seventeenth century. It is made of walnut, and stands over eight feet high, with cupboard and shelves. While this chest was of unusual beauty, there was a certain solidity and ponderous character observable in most of the Dutch furniture. It is characteristic of the people themselves and is noted in everything belonging to them. Their very ships had long, high-sounding names, The Angel Gabriel, The Van Rensselaer Arms, King David, Queen Esther, King Solomon, The Great Christopher, The Crowned Sea-Bears, and brought in their flat hulks fine goods from all quarters.
Figure 11. Dutch Furniture, called "Queen Anne"
The dress of the portly Dutch vrouw was in unison with her cleanliness and love of thrift, for her gown whether of cloth, or her very bettermost one of silk was cut short enough to well clear the ground, and showed her shoes with shining buckles, and her bright-coloured stockings, often clocked with her favorite flower, the tulip. The hair was drawn back from the brow, smoothed and flattened and covered with a cap which, among the wealthy, was bordered with Flanders lace, and in any case was fluted, plaited, and snowy white.
The practical education which the Dutch women always obtained in their own country sharpened their judgment, and the laws which permitted her to hold real estate and carry on business in her own name, even if a married woman, gave her an added independence. It was no unusual thing for women to engage in business on their own account and to carry it on without the aid or interference of the men of the family. At home in the Low Countries, the women had sold at the market, beside the produce of the gardens and poultry yards, the products of their own industry as well, laces, linen, cloth of wool, etc., and as early as 1656 they sought and obtained permission to hold their market in the new country as they had in the old. Curaηao provided for them many luxuries, such as "lemons, parrots, and paroquettes," besides a variety of liquors. The women grew flax in their own door-yards for the finest linen, and every house had its spinning-wheel.
Hospitality was dispensed at these homes, supper being a favorite meal, and as "early to bed and early to rise" was a national motto the guests were expected to come early and to leave early also, nine o'clock verging on riotous dissipation. Madam Steenwych was noted for her suppers, which were more substantial than the waffles and tea which was the usual menu. In 1664, after her husband's death, she married Dominie Selyns. At this time she had in her living-room twelve Russia leather chairs, two easy-chairs with silver lace, one cupboard of fine French nut-wood, one round and one square table, one cabinet, thirteen pictures, one dressing-box, cushions, and curtains. Her chairs with silver lace may have well been like the handsome pair of marquetry ones shown in Figure 13. The seat of the side chair is entirely gone, but the armchair yet retains a portion of its cover of wool plush, no doubt the original one, since some of the stuffing protrudes, and it is dried sea-kale instead of hair. The wood is maple with an inlay of satin-wood. These chairs belong to the Museum connected with Cooper Institute, New York, which is being carefully gathered by the Misses Hewitt.
Figure 12. Carved Kas
Property had become valuable, and loss had been sustained by fire, so in August, 1658, 250 leather fire-buckets for public use were ordered from Holland, together with hooks and ladders. In addition each household was required to have a certain number of buckets of their own, which were to be kept hanging under the back stoop.
In 1686 a rich Dutch burgher in New Amsterdam owned a house of eight rooms over cellars filled, no doubt, with choice liquors and schnapps, and the rooms above set out with chairs and tables, cabinets, cupboards and a "great looking-glass." Ornaments were there, too, alabaster images and nineteen gaily decorated porcelain dishes. Nor was the house suffered to want for thorough cleansing, as there were thirteen scrubbing and thirty-one rubbing brushes, twenty-four pounds of Spanish soap, and seven other brushes. With an increase of prosperity our Dutch housewives lost no whit of their notions of cleanliness, for here is a housecleaning described, presumably by a victim, a hundred years later.
"The husband gone, the ceremony begins. The walls are stripped of their furniture; paintings, prints, and looking-glasses lie in huddled heaps about the floors; the curtains are torn from their testers, the beds crammed into windows; chairs and tables, bedsteads and cradles crowd the yard; and the garden fence bends beneath the weight of carpets, blankets, cloth cloaks, old coats, under-petticoats, and ragged breeches. This ceremony completed, and the house thoroughly evacuated, the next Operation is to smear the walls and ceilings with brushes dipped into a solution of lime called whitewash; to pour buckets of water over the floor and scratch all the partitions and wainscots with hard brushes charged with soft soap and stone-cutter's sand'"
Even these thrifty pioneers did not all accrue many
goods, for 1707, when Hellegonda De Kay, of New York, came to make her will,
she was obliged to leave her "entire worldly estate" to one daughter.
It consisted of one Indian slave. The Dutch wife had an equal interest with her
husband in disposing of household goods and furniture. She was always
consulted, and sometimes she even signed the will with her husband. The wives
of the English settlers, whether Quaker or Puritan, did not have the rights of
their Dutch sisters in the ownership of household goods. The wife's dowry
passed into her husband's hands at marriage, and remained there until his
death, as the inventory of the estate of Alexander Allyn of Hartford, Conn.,
who died in 1708, testifies.
"Estate that deceased had with his wife Elizabeth in marriage (now left to her)."
"One round table; bed with furnishings; chest of drawers; two trunks; a box; books; earthenware; glasses; pewter platters; plates; bason; porringers; cups; spoons; tinware; a fork; trenchers; four chairs; nine pounds in silver money; table-cloths; napkins; towels; a looking-glass; a chest; a silver salt; porringer; wine-cup and spoon; a brass pot; an iron pot; two brass skillets and hooks."
The following extract from a will drawn in 1759 by a man eighty years old shows the Friend's point of view as to whom the household stuff belonged. He wills to his wife as long as she liveth, unless she marries again (she was seventy years old at the time),
"two good feather beds and full furniture, and all my negro bedding; and all my grain, either growing or cut, or in store at the time of my decease; and all my flax and wool, and yarn and new cloth and cattle hides, leather, and soap, and meat, and all other provisions which I have in store in my house, either meat or drink, and all my negro men and one of my negro women, such of them as she shall choose, and my negro girl named Priss; and if I should chance to dye when I have cattle a-fatting my wife shall have them for the provision of herself and family, at my wife's disposal."
No doubt the feather beds and "negro bedding," as well as the "new cloth," had been made by the patient fingers of this wife of fifty years' standing; but she must forfeit all this fruit of her labour should she marry again. The Dutch system seems preferable.
In another inventory, that of Charles Mott, also a Long Island Quaker, dated 1740, the eldest son has the house and homestead, "together with the negro boy Jack and one feather bed." The sole provision for his wife was "four pounds a year" to be paid to her by the eldest son "so long as she remains my widow." He seems to have put a premium on her filling his place, and that quickly.
Possibly our Dutch settlers were more notable house wives than their sisters in New England or the South. In the latter region the mistress did not contribute with her own hands to the cleanliness of her home, but she had onerous duties in overlooking the work of sometimes over a hundred negroes, seeing to their food, clothes, and shelter. Our New England wives were still suffering from Indian depredations, and the young housewives whose doors were driven thick with nails to repel the deadly tomahawk, as Mistress David Chapin's was at Chicopee in 1705, would probably not have risked her "goods" out of doors, as did the Dutch housewives at Albany.
The Dutch kitchen utensils seem numerous and varied. Possets, pans, jack-spits, strainers and skillets were seen in inventories as well as the more familiar pots and kettles. The prosperous Dutch at home had sent out and brought back many a rich argosy, and silks and tissues, porcelains and lacquers, carved ivory and fantastic carved wood, spices and plants had been brought to Holland and found their way to America. There were many ships unloaded at New York filled with spoils from the East, which were eagerly bought up. There was a variety of moneys current, beaverskins; wampum; Spanish pistoles, worth 175. 6d'; Arabian chequins at 10s.; "pieces of eight" (as the Spanish reals were called), which, if they weighed 16 pennyweight (except those of Peru) passed for 5s.; and French crowns worth 5s. Peruvian pieces of eight and Dutch dollars were valued at 4s., and all English coin passed "as it goes in England." These were the values in 1705, but they varied somewhat, the currency being inflated by one governor, though his act created such a disturbance that he was obliged to withdraw it. The Long Island Dutch seem to have had less rich belongings than those up the Hudson and about Albany. Around Jamaica and Hempstead were stout clapboard and shingle houses, but the inventories are not lavish. Daniel Denton, writing in 1670 "A Brief Description of New York," says this about his dearly loved Hempstead.
Figure 13. Marquetry Chairs
"May you should see the woods and Fields so curiously bedeckt with Roses and an innumerable multitude Of delightful Flowers not only pleasing to the eye but smell. That you may behold Nature contending with Art and striving to equal if not excel many gardens in England."
But he has little to say about the way of living, except that it is "godly."
The records of New Amsterdam, which are so wonderfully complete, show what a valuable assistant to these first settlers was the powerful West India Company. By 1633 there were five stone houses containing the Company's workshops; and as the land near at hand was poor, "scrubby" the Dutch farmers called it, they spread out to the neighbouring New Jersey, Long Island, Gowanus, and East River shores and from 1636 to 1640 were busy with their settlements.
By 1651 New Amsterdam was prosperous enough to have a brick house so good and well built as to be worth 5,195 florins (about $2,100 of our money). In 1649 Adam Roelantsen, a general factotum of the West India Company, whose name constantly appears in the town records, (as he was unfortunately addicted to strong waters, and under these conditions was very quarrelsome and aggressive,) owned the following house. It was a clapboard structure covered with a reed roof, and eighteen by thirty feet in size. It stood gable end toward the street, and at the front door was the usual "portal" with its wooden seats. Outside of the frame the chimney of squared timber was carried up, while within the fireplace had a mantelpiece and the living room had "fifty-one leaves of wainscot." There was a bedstead or state-bed built in, but of the movables no record is left. In reading these old records it is noticed that matters moved quickly; not much time was spent in grief and repining; and to illustrate we give the experience of one woman whose career does not seem to have excited any comment among her contemporaries. In 1685 William Cox married a young woman named Sarah Bradley, who had come from England with her father and brothers to settle in New Amsterdam. She was said to have been handsome and dashing, and certainly she needed spirit to carry her through her subsequent career. Four years after her marriage her husband met with the following accident, thus described by a political opponent.
"Mr. Cox, to show his fine clothes, undertook to goe to Amboy to proclaime the King, who, coming whome againe, was fairely drowned, which accident startled our commanders here very much; there is a good rich widdow left. The manner of his being drowned was comeing on board a cannow from Capt Cornelis' Point at Staten Islands, goeing into the boate, slipt down betwixt the cannow and the boate, the water not being above his chin, but very muddy, stuck fast in, and, striving to get out, bobbing his head under, receaved to much water in. They brought him ashore with life in him, but all would not fetch him againe."
The good rich "widdow" whom he left soon changed her loneliness for the pleasures of married life, this time with Mr. John Oort. He, too, made a brief stay, for by May 16, 1691, the widow Sarah Oort had the necessary license under colonial law for her marriage to no less a person than Captain William Kidd. They lived comfortably in a house left by Sarah's first husband, Mr. Cox (who left her with an estate of several thousand pounds) till Captain Kidd set out on his notable voyage in the "Adventure." The goods which Mrs. Oort had at the time of her marriage to Captain Kidd were the following: fifty-four chairs, of Turkey work and double and single nailed; five tables with their carpets (covers); four curtained beds with their outfits; three chests of drawers; two dressing-boxes; a desk; four looking-glasses; two stands; a screen; a clock; andirons; fire-irons; fenders: chafing-dishes; (3) candlesticks of silver, brass, pewter, and tin; leather fire-buckets; over one hundred ounces of silver plate; and a dozen glasses. The screen, no doubt, was such a one as is shown in the same figure, No. 14, as the Dutch cradle, which was used for many years in the Pruyn family, of Albany. The third object in the picture is what is known as a church stool, and was useful in keeping the good vrouw's feet off the cold floors. This stool is painted black and is dated 1702. There is a lurid picture of the Last Judgment painted on it, and also a verse in Dutch, which reads as follows:
"The judgment of God is now at hand. There is still time; let us separate the pious from the wicked, and entreat God for the joy of heaven."
All these articles are now at the rooms of the Historical Society, Albany.
William Kidd was executed in May, 1701, and, nothing daunted by her matrimonial ventures, Sarah took as her fourth husband, in 1703, Christopher Rousby, a man of considerable influence in the colony. She lived until 1745, and left surviving her four children.
While the houses were rough, some with but two rooms, yet articles even of luxury were there and offered for sale. As early as 1654 a casket inlaid with ebony was sold and brought thirty beavers and nineteen guilders. Cornelis Barentsen sued Cristina Capoens in 1656 for payment for a bed he sold her, payment to be made in fourteen days. The price was six beavers (about $57.00), which Cristina seemed unable to pay, but which payment was ordered by the court. In June, 1666, the administrators of the estate of the late Jan Ryerson sold some "beasts" (horses, calves, and hogs), as well as furniture at public sale. "The payment for the beasts, also the bed, bolsters, and pillows," was to be made in "whole merchantable beavers, or otherwise in good strung seewant, beavers' price, at twenty-four guilders the beaver."
Here is the inventory of a bride who was married at New Amsterdam in 1691, and although her husband was a man of consideration and some wealth it was deemed of sufficient importance to record.
"A half-worn bed; one pillow; two cushions of ticking, with feathers; one rug; four sheets; four cushion-covers; two iron pots; three pewter dishes; one pewter basin; one iron roster; one schuryn spoon; two cowes about five years old; one case or cupboard, one table."
August 31, 1694, Jan Becker's inventory entered at Albany, New York, showed a long list. Besides abundant household goods he had‑
"A silver spoon; 3 pr. gold buttons; 5 doz. & 10 silver buttons for shirts; & 2 silver scnuffies."
Figure 14. Screen, Cradle, and Church Stool
It is not difficult to picture in the mind how these old Dutch houses looked when the living-room was made snug and warm of a winter's evening. At various places along the Hudson and on Long Island there are still standing some of these old, low-ceiled, wooden houses, with sloping roof and great chimney. The furniture was generally of oak (particularly if it had been brought from home) and carved; The most important objects in the room are the mantelpiece and the bed, the former of carved wood, its ornate character significant of the wealth of the owner, and its size seldom less than the height of the room. The bed was frequently built in the room, a sort of bunk, hung with curtains often of bright chintz, though, judging from the inventories, "purple calico" curtains were immensely popular, just as this same fabric is beloved to-day by the pretty maid-servants one sees tripping through the quaint old streets of Holland. There were stools; not many chairs; tables, one or two; each with its bright carpet or cover; racks on the wall for what delft the mistress had; and below it the treasured spoons. In the great kas, which took up a large portion of the room, was the linen, covers for tables, side-tables, shelves, etc., and all the napkins and choice belongings of the housewife. If this kas was carved oak it sometimes stood on a frame; sometimes it had ponderous locks. If it was painted or inlaid wood it might reach nearly to the floor, and then stand upon large ball feet. Some of these kas were so large and heavy that it was almost impossible to move them, and there is the record of one vrouw who upon moving from Flatbush was obliged to abandon hers, leaving it behind her and selling it for £25.
In the Van Rensselaer family is a marriage kas which goes back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. It was imported from Holland by the parents of Katherine Van Brugh, who wished their only daughter to have everything that money could buy, and during her early years it was being filled with linen and household goods woven under her father's roof. It was no light task to fill this great chest, for it stood seven feet high and proportionally wide. It is of carved oak, has many drawers and receptacles, and will hold the silver and finery of the mistress, while there are secret drawers for "duccatoons and jacobuses." The keyhole is concealed under a movable cover of carved wood, which looks like a part of the carving when dropped in place. The ponderous key is of iron and has many wards.
If the family was quite well to do and owned a good stock of clothes, there would be one or more smaller cases, or chests, in which these were stored away. Much furniture was made here by Dutch workmen, who followed the fashions of their native land. They found abundant material, and more was brought into the country, in devious ways sometimes, but still it came.
The court records for New Amsterdam for 1644 report a bark, Croisie, of Biscay, which was brought into the harbour as a prize by the ship La Garce, being laden with sugar, tobacco, and ebony. The claim of the master of the La Garce was granted, and the goods sold.
Nearly always there was a little silver, spoons, mugs, and a salt-cellar; and, as years passed on, much coin was beaten by some member of the family (for there were many Dutch silversmiths) into tankards, splendid heavy vessels, capable of holding a quart, with cover and thumb-piece, and showing the marks of the mallet on the bottom and inside, for all of these pieces of plate were hand-made. Waiters and massive bowls were seen in nearly every family of easy circumstances, and they scarcely ever went out of the family, as it was a matter of pride to retain them. Much of this fine old plate is treasured to-day by descendants of its former owners. It has survived better than the furniture, indestructible as that seemed.
In 1739 Lowrens Claesen, of Schenectady, had, among other property, a gold seal ring and a silver cup marked "L. V. V." Myndert Fredricksen of Albany County, New York, blacksmith, left in 1703 a great silver tankard, a church book with silver clasps and chains, and a silver tumbler marked "M. F." A blacksmith in those days meant a worker in iron, and this one must have been prosperous, for he owned his house and land, and furniture as well as silver.
But even if silver were lacking there were brass skillets and warming-pans, and pewter was the ordinary table furniture, which was scoured to a polish little short of silver. One or two pieces of brightly decorated Delft ware was the crowning glory of the housewife's treasures, and far too precious for every-day use. So holes were drilled in the edge, and a stout cord passed through, so that it could be hung upon the wall. There was, of course, a clock also, and leather chairs. Nicholas Van Rensselaer, of Albany, who died in 1679, was a wealthy and important member of the colony of Albany. His house had two beds, two looking-glasses, two chests of drawers, two tables, one of oak and one of nut-wood; also a table of pine, as well as six stools of the same; a sleeping-bunk or built-in bed, over twenty pictures, a desk, and, of course, brushes and kitchen utensils. These goods were disposed of through four rooms. Not only were all the necessaries abundant, but some very elegant furniture came in with almost every ship, and even before 1700, ebony chairs, boxes and cabinets are mentioned in the inventories; but such splendid pieces as the cabinet shown in Figure 15, with carved panels in the doors, and carved twisted legs, were only occasionally to be met with. The doors conceal shelves, and above are two drawers with drop handles. There are pieces similar to this to be found in the United States in private houses as well as in museums. This cabinet belongs to the Waring Galleries, London.
Children slept in trundle beds, which during the day were pushed under the large bed, often a four-post bedstead when not the sleeping-bunk. One thing was found in every house, rich or poor, and this was some means for striking fire. Tinder and steel, with scorched linen, were an indispensable part of every household. Sometimes it was necessary to borrow coals from a neighbour, and there were stringent town laws ordering that "fire shall always be covered when carried from house to house." In the "Court Records of New Amsterdam" one of the earliest laws regulated the carrying about of hot coals, and several Dutch vrouws were hauled to court for breaking them.
The furniture in these houses was by no means all of Dutch or domestic make. They had what they were able to get, and among painted kas and inlaid chests would be Spanish chairs or stools, and English walnut beds with serge hangings, folding tables and Turkey-work chairs. Before the close of the seventeenth century there came direct to New York Dutch ships from the Orient, or from the Low Countries themselves, loaded with rich goods, among which was much furniture. Styles had begun to change a little; the Dutch were absorbing ideas from the Chinese and copying and adapting forms and decorations. Beautiful lacquer work was coming in, and splendid inlaid or marquetry work; not any more in two colours, as was the earliest style, but in a variety of colours and in divers patterns, and standing upon bandy legs with ball and claw, or what is known as the Dutch foot, instead of the straight or turned leg.
Figure 15. Ebony Cabinet
The inventories show how far East Indian goods were coming in, and there is frequent mention of "East India baskets," boxes, trunks, and even cabinets. The most usual woods were black walnut, white oak and nut-wood, which was hickory. Occasionally pieces were made of olive-wood, or of pine-wood painted black. Ebony was used for inlay and for adornment for frames. Looking-glasses were mentioned in nearly every list, the earliest coming from Venice. By 1670 looking-glass was manufactured at Lambeth, England, in the Duke of Buckingham's works, and was not now so costly as to be seen only among the wealthy. The cupboards were no longer uniformly made with solid doors, but glass was introduced, so that the family wealth of silver and china could be easily seen. By 1727 mahogany is mentioned occasionally in the inventories, and it could be bought by those who were wealthy enough to afford it.
Probably the Spaniards were the earliest users of mahogany, followed by the Dutch and English. Furniture made of this wood is known to have existed in New York prior to 1700, and in Philadelphia a little later. The old Spanish mahogany was a rich, dark, heavy wood, susceptible of a high polish. It darkened with age and was not stained. The new mahogany, at least that which comes from Mexico, is of a light, more yellow colour, and requires staining, as age does not darken it. It is light in weight. The mere lifting of a piece enables one to judge whether it is made from Spanish wood.
The carpets referred to in nearly every inventory were not floor-coverings, but table-covers, small rugs, no doubt, but far too precious to be worn out by rough-shod feet walking over them. The floors were scoured white, and were strewn with sand which showed the artistic capacity of mistress or maid in the way it had patterns drawn in it by broom-handle or pointed stick. It was not until the middle of the century that carpets became at all common, and even then they are mentioned in the inventories as very choice possessions. There were "flowered carpets," "Scotch ditto," "rich and beautiful Turkey carpets," and Persian carpets also. The colonists traded with Hamburg and Holland for "duck, checquered linen, oznaburgs, cordage, and tea," goods appreciated by the housewife, and which she could not make.
The festivities indulged in by the Dutch settlers were generally connected with the table; they played backgammon, or bowls when the weather was fine and they could go out of doors. The cards they used numbered seventy-three to the pack, and there was no queen, her placed being supplied by a cavalier who was attended by a hired man, and they both supported the king. Cards were not popular, however, except among the English settlers, and they followed the home fashions.
Figure 16. Bed Chair
After English rule had been dominant in the little city of New Amsterdam for nearly fifty years the larger number of the families was still Dutch, as a collection of wills made at that period testifies. What would be now domains worthy a prince farms lying in Nassau Island, as Long Island was then called, vast tracts in New Jersey, and thousands of acres between New York and Albany were divided by these wills. Such names as Killian Van Rensselaer, second lord of the manor; Harmanus Rutgers, Philip Schuyler, Van Cortlandt, Provoost, etc., are signed to these documents but it is in the minor wills that we find the records of the lives of the main body of the people. A feather bed, one or more slaves, and the family Bible are the bequests usually first specified, the Bibles in some cases being very massive and ponderous affairs. Jarminaye Sieurs, widow, 1709, bequeaths to her daughter her Bible with silver clasps, in addition to her gold rings and one half of her clothes. A grand-daughter, Hilley Veghten, gets a "silver cup with two ears," and other grandchildren, bearing such interesting names as Reynier, Simesse, and Gretie Veghten, get a silver spoon each. In 1711 a fond mother leaves to her daughter "the red and white worsted and linen stockings," besides two pillows, two cover-lids, a bed and furniture.
A Hempstead yeoman is very careful to stipulate that his daughter shall have "one feather bed, an iron pot, six plates, three platters, two basins, one drinking pot and one cupboard worth £3, and six chairs, six sheep, and one table."
The price of the cupboard being specified shows that it was held in great estimation, and it must have been a handsome piece of furniture.
Only very occasionally do we find a record in the inventories of a "bed chair," yet such were sometimes found here early in the eighteenth century. One is shown in Figure 16. It is carved on the top and inlaid, and covered with woollen plush, not the original covering, which no doubt was Turkey work. Two hinges are shown on the front rail; the back lets down, and a leg unfolds to support it; while the legs and arms coming together make the centre firm. This unusual piece is at the Museum connected with the Cooper Institute, is of nut-wood or maple inlaid with tulip-wood, with bandy legs and the well-known Dutch feet.
The Dutch settlers had other elegances which are more rarely met with, such as walnut kas or chests, inlaid with plaques, or rather small saucers and plates of Oriental china. These were tall, with doors opening their whole length, and stood on the great ball feet which are so familiar. One such cabinet is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and another is owned by Mrs. Pruyn of Albany. In the former example the plaques display flowers and birds in various colours; in the latter are plain blue and white.
Figure 17. Marquetry Desk
Of later manufacture were pieces of rich marquetry in vari-coloured exotic woods upon mahogany. The heavy foot was replaced by others, still turning out, to be sure, in the Flemish fashion, but very ornate and beautiful, and still further embellished with ornaments in gilt. Such a piece, massive in shape, but enriched with much ornament, is shown in the desk depicted in Figure 17. It was never made for any of the humbler houses of the Dutch settlers, but such a piece was worthy to stand in the study of a wealthy patroon or to belong to some "lord of the manor." This particular desk, a very perfect example of its class, belongs to the Waring Galleries, London.