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COLONIAL AND LATER PERIODS.
UNDER the broad head of Colonial Furniture may really be classed all the "movables and chattels" which belonged to the early settlers, while to be entirely correct, this characterization belongs only to such furniture as was brought in or made before 1776. As the pioneers came from many lands, so many different kinds of furniture will be included in the list.
We must begin at the South, with the melancholy little plantation at Jamestown. Through evil times the feeble colony struggled, harassed by poverty, disease, savage foes, and internal dissensions. There in 1607 were planted the first beginnings of the settlements which were in three hundred years to cover a continent. Traces of the little colony have almost disappeared now by the action of the James River, high tide covering the brick foundations of the ancient buildings. Walking along the shore one may find little red and white clay pipes, in smoking which, filled with the fragrant weed, the pioneers forgot their woes. Glass beads striped like gooseberries, to take the eyes of the Indians in barter, pieces of water-soaked brick from these toil-built houses, and even traces of the days of Smith, sword-hilts, bits of armour, balls, etc., and more pathetic mementos of James-town's trials human bones and coffin-handles.
Yet in 1639, thirty-two years after the foundation of the colony, there were in Maryland some planters called "rich," who measured their worldly goods by their value in tobacco, the raising of which weed had proved their only salvation. The laws regarding its cultivation, particularly in Massachusetts, were very stringent. It was only to be grown as medicine and used privately. It was considered a more harmful indulgence than liquor, and the "Creature called Tobacko" was hemmed and hedged about with rules and restrictions. It circumvented them all, was planted and grown, and finally became a commodity of much value and a medium of exchange. About ninety years later we find an item which shows how universal had become its use. The will of May Bickley, attorney general of the province of New York, filed April 27, 1724, directs that he "wishes to be buried without pipes and tobacco as is usual."
To Maryland and Virginia were transplanted almost bodily rich homes from the mother country, filled with the luxuries to which their occupants had been accustomed. It has been said that many of the grand old homes in the South were built of "English brick." While this is true in the letter, it is entirely misleading to the reader in general. The bricks were not brought from England, because at that time there were few ships afloat capable of bearing any such quantity as would have been necessary for a house of any considerable size. Mr. McCrady, in his "History of South Carolina," has taken considerable pains to explain how this error arose. The historic Miles Brewton house, now called the Pringle house built about 1770 in the city of Charleston, is one of the best known houses in the State. It was used as military headquarters during both the Revolutionary and the Civil wars. It has been computed, by actual measurement, that the house contains 1,278,720 bricks. Each of these weighs eight pounds, the whole amounting to 4,566 tons. No vessels then afloat could carry more than 500 tons, so it would have taken nine of such vessels to bring over the bricks for this house alone. Josiah Quincy says in his Journal that this house cost about $50,000, which sum would hardly have covered the expense of so many vessels from London. Mr. McCrady's solution is that there were two styles of brick made, one, large and heavy, known as "English" the other called "Dutch" which were very small.
Figure 44. Kitchen at Deerfield, Mass.
There were, however, bricks brought from England, for the prices of brick, both of British and New England make, were fixed by statute. As early as 1662 brickmakers and bricklayers were paid by each thousand bricks made and laid by them. The first material brought into Virginia for building purposes was in 1607, for the use of George Percy. Brickmakers were twice advertised for in 1610, and joiners were at work on the furniture needed for the new homes.
The houses late in the seventeenth century were by no means so large as one would expect. Six or eight rooms was the usual size, and many had even fewer. The house of Cornelius Lloyd, whose estate was valued at 131,044 pounds of tobacco, contained a chamber and hall and a kitchen with loft and dairy. The windows were often but sliding panels, but in houses of any pretensions glass was used. In 1684 Colonel Byrd sent to London for 400 feet of glass, with drawn lead and solder in proportion. Robert Beverly, Sr., one of the richest men in the Virginia colony prior to the opening of the eighteenth century, had in his dining-hall one oval and one folding table, a leather couch, two chests, a chest of drawers and fifteen Russia-leather chairs, value £9 9s. His supply of table linen was abundant, and the table-ware was pewter, with wooden trenchers and some earthenware. Richard Hobbs, of Rappahannock, who died in 1667, owned, among much household stuff, but a single fork, John Frison, of Henrico County had one of tortoise-shell. Robert Dudley, of Middlessex County who died in 1700, had several forks made of horn.
To show some of the luxuries for sale in Virginia prior to 1670 the inventory of the store of John Frison, mentioned above, is given.
"Holland night-caps; muslin neck-cloths; silk-fringed gloves; silver shoe-buckles; embroidered Holland waistcoats; 2 doz. pr. white gloves; 1 lace cap; 7 lace shirts; 9 lace ruffles; holster-caps of scarlet embroidered with silver and gold; gold and silver hat-bands; a parcel of silver lace; and a feathered velvet cap."
There were also many valuable furs.
Mrs. Diggs, widow of the governor of Virginia, died in 1699. She was a person of much consequence in the colony, and her inventory is interesting on that account. In her hall parlour were
"5 Spanish tables; 2 green and two Turkey-worked carpets; 9 Turkey-worked chairs, and 11 with arrows woven on the seats; 1 embroidered and 1 Turkey-worked couch; 5 pictures (valued at five shillings); 2 pairs of brass andirons; 3 pr. old tongs; and 1 clock."
Not only did English ships bring on every voyage the best that England afforded, but Dutch traders, too, crowded in with their own goods, and others besides from the East. The inventories mention "Dutch cases", and "Dutch turned chairs", before 1680; and as these rich planters had tobacco to trade, they obtained all the luxuries to be had. It is seen that New England had her rich and prosperous men also, and some fine homes were built as early as 1639. Figure 27 shows a room in the famous old Whipple House, Ipswich, Mass., built about 1642. The solidity of these houses is exemplified by the beams, with their finely moulded edges. The furniture is both interesting and beautiful, one of the most attractive pieces being the desk made on Sheraton lines which stands on the right-hand side. A handsome bookcase and desk fill the corner, and a little Pembroke table holds much glass.
Figure 45. William Penn's Table
The picture (Figure 44) shows a typical New England kitchen in Colonial times. It has been arranged in the Deerfield Memorial Hall, and all the furniture and utensils shown herein were gathered in the neighbourhood. These primitive homes did not have mantelpieces as a rule, but the heavy wooden beam fashioned with an axe was called the mantel-tree. The one shown here did duty for a hundred and sixty-eight years. The wide chimney-piece could easily accomodate the small children of the family sitting on billets of wood, while the elders were comfortable on the settle with its high backboard. It has a convenient candle-bracket which could be adjusted to suit the reader, and if more light were needed the candle-stand was convenient. The back of this settle is sixty inches high, more than is usual. It was owned by Jacob Rich, who settled in the neighbourhood of Deerfield, Mass., in 1777.
A famous house was known as the "Old Stone House" at Guilford, Conn., while at Boston, Salem, Danvers, Dedham, and Dorchester was built many a sturdy dwelling still standing to show with what solidity these pioneers did their work, In the earliest days of the Colony's struggles too much luxury was not deemed good for those battling with the wilderness. Governor Winthrop writes with some gratification in 1630 of the burning up of some fine table linen, brought by a "godly woman of the Church of Boston" from London, and of which she was very proud.
"But it pleased God that the loss of this linen did her much good, both in taking off her heart from worldly comforts, and in preparing her for a far greater affliction by the untimely death of her husband, who was slain not long after at Isle of Providence."
Yet in 1647, when he married the widow Coytemore, he seems to have had no hesitation in accepting with her a rich dowry, her share of the estate of her former husband, and valued at £640 1s 8d. Among the items were such frivolities as "a silver girdle and a silk jacket." There must have been also other choice garments in the many chests and trunks enumerated. One of these chests is specified as "spruce." The widow had a brave stock of pewter, worth £135, and among other goods unusual at this period were,
It is a matter of wonder how the governor reconciled his conscience to the silver girdle and "jacket," for in 1634 the Massachusetts General Court had particularly prohibited the wearing of either "gold or silver girdles, hattbands, belts, ruffs, and beaver hatts." Also they forbade the purchase of "any appell, either wollen, silke, or lynnen with any lace on it, silver golde, silke or threed." They were only allowed one "slash" on each sleeve and one on the back. These rules were operative for many years, for in Salem, in 1653, a man is haled before the court for excess "in bootes, rebonds, gould, and silver lace." In Newbury, Mass., in 1653, two women were brought before the court for wearing "a silk hood and scarfe," but both were discharged for proving their husbands were worth over £100. John Hutchin's wife was also discharged "upon testimony of her being brought up above the ordinary ranke." These items show that both rank and property were saving grace even among the Puritans, and no doubt Mrs. Winthrop escaped censure under this rule.
Figure 46. Rush-Bottomed Chairs
Boston, about 1650, had houses partly of brick and partly of stone, as well as plainer wooden ones. In 1640 John Davys built for William Rix, a weaver, a house "16 feet long and 14 feet wide, with a chamber floare finished with summer and ioysts." There was also a cellar, the walls were covered with clapboards, and the chimney was made of hewn timber, daubed. The whole house cost £21. This was a typical house of a workingman, and must have required little furniture besides the loom to fill it. The fine houses with ample halls and large rooms were but the forerunners of that comfortable style we call by the name Colonial. But they were precious things when once built, and it is by no means uncommon to find them parcelled out to different relatives. In 1658 John Greene of Warwick, R. I., gives to his beloved wife
"a large hall and chimni with a little chamber adjoining to the hall, as also a large chamber with a little chamber within yt, with a large garret and with a little dary room which buttes against ye oule house during her life; also half ye orchard."
It seems as if this bequest might have been open to different interpretations among the heirs. He does not specify if he left the "goods" which were in the hall and rooms, quite important items.
The widow Francis Killburn's house at Hartford, whose estate in 1650 was valued at £349, had in her hall "tables, formes, chaires, stools, and benches," all valued at 1.
Mr. Palfrey says in his "History of New England" that Whitfield's house at Guilford, Mass., built in 1639, is the oldest house standing now in New England. There were three stone houses built at Guildford this same year, and it is now asserted that there are quite a number of houses still standing which were built before that of Whitfield. The Barker house at Pembroke, Mass., built in 1628, is said to be the most ancient. The walls of the Whitfield house are of stone; it is two stories high with garret, and the timber is oak. There are two secret closets which were found by removing a board in the attic. This house was ample and commodious, and the household furnishings were of corresponding value.
In the colonies during the seventeenth century the doublet was worn by women as well as by men. Men wore it over a sleeved waistcoat. The sleeves were elaborately slashed and embroidered. There were falling bands at the neck for those who wished, while the sedately inclined wore white linen collars. Trunk hose were used, and shoes plainly tied or with rosettes. A beaver or felt hat was a necessary adjunct, and all those who could afford it wore gloves, embroidered if possible. These gloves had gauntlets, worked or fringed, and such an important item of dress were the gloves that in 1645 the glovers petitioned the Council to prevent the export of undressed goat-skins.
Figure 47. Connecticut Chest
In many inventories the item of leather breeches appears, and in connection with them the comment "half wore out." Henry Webb, of Boston, who died in 1660, left an estate much of which descended to Harvard College. His wearing-apparel was unusually limited for a man of means. In women's inventories the most important item is always linen or plate, a "ring with a diamond" valued at eight shillings being an unusual piece of luxury belonging to Mistress Anne Hibbins in 1656.
The best articles which New England exported, and for which England was most greedy, were masts, thirty-three to thirty-five inches in diameter, selling for from £95 to £115 each. These and salt fish proved of more value to the colonies than any other commodity possessed at that time.
Much of the furniture of the old homes has disappeared. Some is still retained by the descendants of its original owners, and there are other pieces now gathered in museums, nearly every city endeavouring to retain the mementos of her early history.
By 1700 Philadelphia was quite a flourishing town. The life of the country magnates was elegant and dignified. Many rich men had both town and country houses complete in every detail. Before the Pennsylvania Colony was five years old, (the grant was given March 24, 1681) William Penn had set the example of having a town and country house, the latter being completed in 1685. He owned a coach and a calash, and had, besides, a fine barge with oarsmen who rowed him between his house and Philadelphia. Fairfield, the home of the Norris family, was finished in 1717, and was at that time the most beautiful home in Philadelphia. The sashes for the windows and most of the interior woodwork was imported from England, as was the furniture. The hall was considered wonderfully elegant, being paved with marble. There were substantial houses of brick, the latter of which were home-made, and many artizans of all trades, Dutch as well as English, were coming over. William Penn wrote to his agent of such a one, and said that he was to be set to work making wainscot and tables and chairs, as Penn himself was to bring much furniture with him. His house in Bucks County was of brick, two stories and a half high, and was comfortably filled with furniture, some, as we see, made before he arrived, but most of which he brought with him. There was much silver plate, pewter dishes, cisterns, etc., beds, tables, stands and chairs. In the best parlour were two tables, one great cane chair, four small cane chairs, one couch, and many cushions of divers materials. The great hall where they dined had "one long table, two forms, and six chairs." The dining-room was a later development, and not until the eighteenth century was well advanced do we find rooms so called in even the better class of houses.
Figure 45 shows an oak table, of what is called the thousand-legged pattern. It belongs to Mrs. B. H. Oliver, of Chester, Pa., and has an interesting history. It is circular in shape, five feet in diameter, and is in good order. It is said to be part of the furniture brought to America by William Penn, from whom it descended to the Bradfords, a well-known Philadelphia family of printers. It was given by them to a young clerk in their office, named McGowan. In 1849 it came into the possession of Mrs. Oliver's father, and when he died he bequeathed it to his son, Dr. John Hepburn, of Warren, Pa., who gave it to his sister, Mrs. Oliver.
Figure 48. Mahogany Desk
This style of table dates to the first half of the seventeenth century, as may be seen by the drawer which all these early tables had. The brass handle is a late addition, and the drawer has about it the overlapping edge, this style immediately succeeding the drawers with mouldings like those shown in the chest on frame in Figure 5. The legs fold together, fitting into the lower braces, and the leaves drop. This make of table was always considered of value, so we find them selling at Philadelphia in 1705 at £2; at Boston, 1699, at £2; in 1690 at Salem, "a round, black walnut table, £2 5s." Such a table as this was used by Sir William Johnson, so potent a factor in the settlement of the Mohawk Valley. His table is of mahogany, the leaves drop on hinges, and it has one more leg on each side than our example. It is oval in shape instead of round, six feet six inches long, and five feet eleven inches in its shortest diameter. In 1776 this table was confiscated, and was bought by the Hon. John Taylor. His descendents have lent it to the Albany Historical Society.
The social life in Philadelphia in Revolutionary times was easy and agreeable, consisting of the original Quaker families and another class connected with the government, and these two gave the tone to society. The pleasures of the table were the only luxuries which the sedate Quakers allowed themselves, and the city was famous for the quality of its Madeira and French wines, and the wonderful cooking of West India turtle. In 1778 differences in rank were strongly marked. The labourer wore his leather breeches, checkered shirt, and neat's-hide shoes. The queue or club was still worn by men of fashion; so were rich broadcloth coats of every colour except scarlet, which was seen only on the "backs of soldiers, Carolinians, and dancing-masters." Winthrop Sargent, a Philadelphian himself, writing of this time, says:
"Silver tankards and china punch-bowls were evidences of prosperity, as were the small mirrors in wooden frames, and the mahogany tea-boards that are still sometimes met with in the lumber-rooms of old-time houses. Glass tumblers were rarely seen, a dipper for the punch-bowl, or gourd or cup for the waterpail supplied those who did not have recourse to the vessel itself."
This latter statement seems hardly compatible with "elegance," but there were certainly great extremes to be met with even in the Capitol City, as Philadelphia was at that time.
When it became fashionable to have tables round or oval, it was no longer possible to use forms or settles at them. So chairs took their place, and we notice with greater frequency in the inventories "sets" of chairs, six, twelve, and occasionally twenty-four, These early chairs, straight-backed (Figure 46), with rush or bass bottoms. or of carved wood or leather, were hard to sit upon, so cushions were provided in large numbers and of varying degrees of elegance. These rush-bottomed chairs with turned wood frames remained in use for many years. They were made with different degrees of elaboration, one of the two in Figure 46 showing a more ornamental banister back (i. e., the vertical slats) than the other. These two chairs have seen much service, but are uncommonly well preserved, and belong to Mr. William M. Hoyt, of Rochester, N. Y. They were frequently painted dark green, a fashion said to have come to us from Holland. As chairs grew more comfortable the decrease in the number of cushions is very marked.
Figure 49. Corner Cupboard
With the increase in comfort in household belongings a corresponding increase in the elegance of dress was visible, There was a "court circle" in America as well as in England. Broadway, as early as 1700, presented a brilliant sight at church time. Lord Bellomont was governor, and Colonel Bayard and his wife were citizens of wealth and importance. On such an occasion as church-going, on a fine spring morning, Mrs. Bayard wore no bonnet, but a "frontage", a sort of headdress of rows of muslin stiffened with wire. She also wore a "steenkirk", or voluminous necktie, which fell over her bodice. The skirt of her purple and gold atlas gown was cut away to show her black velvet petticoat edged with two silver orrices, and short enough to show her green silk stockings and fine embroidered shoes. Her hair was powdered and her kerchief scented with rosewater.
The furniture in use at this time has been already shown in Chapter I. Oak chairs, leather chairs, and those of cane are all mentioned. We find entries of "12 cane chairs with black frames" (1712); "6 Spanish leather chairs" (1703); "one fine chest of drawers," of maple (1703); "a fine chest of drawers of olive and walnut wood" (1705) and other similar items.
Furniture was now being made in the Colonies in quite large quantities, and New England was actively engaged in the furniture business, which employed many cabinet-makers. Salem had James Symond as early as 1714, and others, with each succeeding year. Lynn had John Davis by 1703, and Marblehead, which was expected to become a great commercial centre, had at least a dozen more or less celebrated between 1729 and 1780. Figure 47 is an example of home-made furniture. It is known to collectors as the Connecticut chest, because this design is found only in that vicinity. Quite a number of such chests are in existence, all bearing the same pattern carved on the panels. They are of oak, often with pine tops, backs, and bottoms. The one shown has the top of oak; the turned drops and ornaments are of pine stained black; its height is 40 inches, width 48 inches, and breadth 22 inches. It is at Deerfield, Mass.
In the eighteenth century ministers were often glad to turn their hands to some work which would eke out their slender stipends. We have seen how Mr. Ripley of Concord increased his. The Rev. Theophilus Pickering, of Salem, in 1724, made furniture. Pieces are still in existence which he made, sturdy and in good order, showing that he put his best work and best wood into this business, as he put his best thought into his pulpit labour.
The woods used by these cabinet-makers embrace all kinds, walnut, maple, cherry, nut-wood (hickory), poplar, ash, and pine. American dealers imported mahogany also in quantities, and it was for sale in planks as well as made up into furniture.
Figure 50. Banquet-Room, Independence Hall, Philadelphia
"New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury" for 1774 published the following advertisements.
"To be sold by Leonard Kip. A quantity of New Beef by the barrel, Honey by the barrel or half barrel, Albany boards and planks, Highland butter in firkins and European Goods. Which he will sell very low for cash or short credit, at his store in Dock Street opposite Mr. Gerard us Duyckinck's."
The following also appeared in many issues of the paper.
"Mahogany Furniture, 3 elegant desks & book cases, 1 chest upon chest of drawers, 1 lady's dressing-chest & bookcase, 3 desks & 1 pr. card tables, 2 setts of chairs, 3 dining-tables & 5 breakfast tables, 1 clock-case furnished with a good plain 8 day clock, Sundry stands, etc. The above articles are well made and most of them are of wood of the first quality and will be sold as low as any furniture of equal value in the city by Willett & Pearse, cabinet & chair-makers, at the sign of the clothes-press nearly opposite the Oswego Market, at the end of Maiden Lane."
In Philadelphia, renowned for its manufacture of household goods, the trade was so large and important that the "Journeyman's Cabinet & Chair-maker's Philadelphia Book of Prices" was issued. In a second edition (1795) are given the prices of many local furniture-makers, such as:
"A plain mahogany high-post bedstead £1. 4s. 6d.
"A plain sofa 6 ft. long, with 6 legs, fast back & no low rails. £1. 8s. 0."
The desk shown in Figure 48 is a piece found at Bedford Springs, Pa., a place which was known as a "resort" as early as 1778, and had houses with plastered walls, quite an unusual luxury in country regions, though as these Springs were frequented by the fashionable society of Philadelphia and New York, who went for the waters, special effort was used to make the place attractive. The desk is mahogany and solid, not veneered. It has a roll-top of the style made by Sheraton, which falls back behind the drawers and cupboards. The brasses are new, and the lid has been restored; otherwise the desk is as it was made. It stood for many years in one of the little outside houses near the main hotel, and when, a number of years ago, a visitor asked to buy it, the proprietor told him the piece was known as "Jimmy Buchanan's desk." Mr. Buchanan was in the habit of spending his summers at Bedford Springs and always occupied the room where this desk was. In 1857, when as President Buchanan he arrived at Bedford, the proprietors in his honour had refurnished his room. They were congratulating themselves that the President would be gratified at what they had done for him, when he suddenly came into the room and demanded in a rage what had become of the desk. If it was not forthcoming he would go elsewhere- He could use it, he said, to write on, and then the drawers were roomy and just suited him for his clean shirts. It is needless to say that the desk was brought down from the garret, and was never removed from the room when President Buchanan visited there.
The desk is in company suited to its age, the larger powder-horn hanging above it being a veteran also. It is seventeen inches long and ten inches broad at the largest end. It bears the following inscription cut in quaint old letters on lines drawn so that they should go straight:
"This is William Norton's Horn made at Qubeck ye to day of Aprill 1776. I powder with my Brother Ball we wound them all that in Our way may chance to fall."
The smaller horn bears the date 1810, and the two swords were used in the General Training days of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. All these relics belong to Anthony Killgore, Esq., of Flemington, N. J.
During the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and even a little earlier, houses were built with wainscoting and panelling, and it was the fashion to build into walls cupboards for the display of china and plate. Frequently they were placed in the corner of the room, and were either with or without doors. Such a cupboard was called a "beaufait," which was sometimes shortened to "bofet," or "buffet," according to the taste of the owner. Figure 49 shows a specimen. The house from which this beaufait came was built in 1696 in Vernon Place, Boston, Mass', by William Clough. Two years later he sold it, and it passed through several hands by inheritance and sale till in 1758 it was bought by Captain Vernon, who with various members of his family held it for seventy-five years. The cherub's heads which ornament the cupboard are somewhat unusual on a piece of furniture of this kind, and it has also a very handsome shell at the top. It is now at the Old State House, Boston.
Mention is also made in many inventories of "Court cupboards," and "livery cupboards." The former were light movable shelves, making a kind of sideboard, and used to display plate and porcelain. A livery cupboard was somewhat similar. It had usually but three shelves and stood upon four legs. It sometimes had a drawer for linen, but no doors. Mugs and cups were hung from the bottom of the shelves, and a ewer stood below. These were put in what was called the dining-parlour, a stately room on the second floor never used to dine in. (See Figure 50 showing the banquet room at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, with the beautiful moulding, wainscot, and over-mantel which were seen in handsome houses in the middle of the eighteenth century.) It was many years before the dining-room was set apart for meals. At first only a screen gave privacy, but gradually the dining-room grew in favour. The early dining-rooms held beds, as well as the parlours, they being given to guests on account of the warmth. Joint stools were there, and Flanders chests, in which the mistress often rummaged, so that the guest should see the goodly store of clothes and linen owned by the family.
As was the custom in England, many wealthy men had their furniture made to order, often in their own houses, where the cabinet-makers came and worked. Sometimes they imported their own woods, as in the case of Mr. Champlin, a merchant of Newport, R. I., who brought home with him in 1762, from a voyage in the West Indies, some logs of mahogany, from which he had several pieces of furniture made. Watson, in his "Annals of New York," says that the use of what was foreign and modish was noted earlier in New York before the Revolution than elsewhere.
"They earlier used carpets, wall-papers, foreign milliners, dressmakers, Windsor chairs. glass utensils, jewelry, dentistry, watches, umbrellas, stage-playbills, etc.
Windsor chairs were advertised in 1768 as made and sold by William Gautier in New York. He also had high-backed, low-backed, sack-backed chairs and settees, and dining and low chairs. A pair of Windsor chairs are shown in Figure 51.
Figure 51. Windsor Chairs
Carriages were imported in 1766 from Dublin, as also men to keep them in repair. They were landaus, curricles, sedans, and even sleighs with gildings, carvings, and japan to suit. In 1774 there was advertised for sale "A handsome Riding Chair with full set of harness," and an announcement was made that there was "To be sold a Genteel Post-chaise."
The carpets referred to above were imported ones, Turkey and Scotch. "Persian and plat carpeting" was offered for sale in 1761 by H. Van Vleck. A later advertisement announced: "There will be sold at Public Auction, April 7, 1777, Two very handsome Turkey carpets. "Rag carpets were used as early as 1660, and private families who could afford it owned their own looms. Sometimes those who wished extra elegance bought the yarn and paid for the weaving.
In 1761, "Pennsylvania Stoves newly invented, both round and square, to be sold by Peter Clopper" were advertised in the "New York Gazette." These were, no doubt, what became known as Franklin stoves. This same year were also advertised wall-papers by quite a number of firms in various cities: "A variety of paper-hangings imported from London." "Flowered papers," "printed papers," and "printed papers for hanging rooms," were imported as early as 1752. Figure 52 shows the fashionable wall-paper of about this period. It is in the Cowles House, Deerfield, Mass., and is in an excellent state of preservation. The sofa below is of the late Sheraton or early Empire, similar to the one belonging to Rev. Mr. Ripley and shown in Figure 36. Some wall-paper of equal elaboration is shown in the Frontispiece, which gives the hallway of the famous "King Hooper House," built at Danvers, Mass., now occupied by Francis Peabody, Esq.
Wall-paper, however, was not very generally used, just why one cannot tell, but some of the gaily flowered papers were used for window-shades. Curtains for windows and beds were at this time very popular, and it was the fashion of the time to have the window-and bed-curtains alike. The materials were very numerous and their names have a most unfamiliar sound. There was perpetuana, Kitterminster, serge, darnick (a coarse damask,) silke darnick, camlet, mohair, fustian, seersucker, camac or camoca, bancour, red and green paly, (vertical stripes of equal size,) printed calico, checked and striped linen, India and Patma chintzes, corded dimities, harrateen, lutestring, moreens of all colours, fine French chintzes, Pompadour chintzes, "fine laylock and fancy callicoes," and "muzlins." There were bed-cords, and fringes to edge and trim all these materials, and the bed in full dress was a very ornamental affair.
Beds varied in size and height in quite a remarkable degree. The one shown in Figure 53 has a very wide reputation, and is now to be seen at the rooms of the Antiquarian Society, Concord, Mass. It is of mahogany, with bandy legs and ball-and-claw feet. The curtains are the original ones that came with the bed and are worn in many places. They are very curious showing agricultural scenes and domestic animals in large numbers. These curtains were not intended to be drawn, but to hang permanently in place, and there were to be inner curtains of "muzlin" or "callico" to draw and keep out drafts. One peculiarity of this bed is its extreme narrowness; it is intended for a double bed and yet its width is only four feet, it was included in the wedding outfit of Miss Martha Tufts, who was married at Concord in 1774. The cabriole leg and style of curtain lead to the supposition that the piece is Dutch.
Figure 52. Wall-Paper
In February, 1768, Miss Harriott Pinckney was married to Daniel Horry in "Charles Town," South Carolina. This was one of twelve weddings that took place that year, all the bridegrooms being wealthy rice-planters. The furniture to fill the houses of these rich couples was all brought from England, and the beds were lofty mahogany ones, four-posters with tester, canopy, curtains, and valances complete. The large heavy posts for all twelve beds were said to be alike, and were carved with rice-stalks, the heavy clustering heads forming the capitals. So tall were these beds that steps were necessary to climb into them, and the ones belonging to Mrs. Horry were in existence a few years ago.
In the "History and Present State of Virginia," 1705, is the following paragraph relating to the homes:
"The private buildings are of late very much improved; several Gentlemen having built themselves large Brick Houses of many Rooms on a floor and several stories high, as also some Stone-Houses; but they don't covet to make them lofty having extent enough of Ground to build upon. They always contrive 10 have large rooms that they may be cool in Summer. Of late they have made their Stories much higher than formerly, and their windows large and sasht with Cristal Glass, and within they adorn their apartments with rich furniture."
The eighteenth century was rightly called the Golden Age of Virginia. The planter in his manor. house, surrounded by his family, served by a vast army of retainers, was like a feudal patriarch, though his rule was milder. On the plantation itself were produced all the necessaries of life; it was a little community in itself. Wool was woven into clothing, flax was spun, shoes were made, and blacksmithing done. Luxuries such as books, wines, silks, laces, and the more elegant household plenishings were brought to the very wharf from London in the planters, own ships in return for tobacco. The writer previously quoted goes on to say, about the people themselves: "They are such abominable ill husbands that, though their country be overrun with wood, yet they have all their wooden ware from England, their cabinets, chairs, tables, stools, chests, boxes, cart-wheels, and all other things, even so much as their bowls and birchen brooms, to the eternal reproach of their laziness."
Although Beverly calls himself an "Inhabitant of Virginia", it is curious that he was not aware that the southern colonies were interdicted by special act of legislature from trading with the Dutch or English colonies. "Wooden ware" is especially mentioned as being subject to "imposicon."
Figure 53. Bed at Concord, Mass.
A typical bed of the last quarter of the eighteenth century is shown in Figure 54. This bed belonged to George Washington, and is in his bedroom at Mount Vernon. It is said to be the one he used in his last illness. Unlike the bed shown in Figure 53, this bed is of unusual proportions, being nearly as wide as it is long. The small table between the doors shows an excellent example of the Dutch foot. Upon it stands a small dressing-glass, so much in use at this period, of very handsome black and gold lacquer. Whenever General Washington had the opportunity he added to the furniture and appointments of Mount Vernon. Belvoir, the home of the Fairfax family, was one of the most splendid of the mansions on the Potomac. In 1774 its contents were sold at auction, and Colonel George Washington bought goods to the value of £200 sterling. Among the most important lots were the following:
"1 mahogany shaving desk, 1 settee bed and furniture (£13), 4 mahogany chairs, 1 chamber carpet, 1 oval glass with gilt frame, 1 mahogany chest and drawers in Mrs. Fairfax's chamber, (£12. 10s) 1 mahogany sideboard, (£12. 5s) 1 mahogany cistern and stand, 1 mahogany voider, 1 desk and 1 knife tray, 12 chairs & 3 window curtains from dining room (£31), 1 mahogany wash desk, (£1. 2s 6d)."
Figure 54. Bed at Mount Vernon
Among the smaller articles were several pairs of andirons, tongs and shovels, bellows, brushes, toasting forks, and "1 hot rache in cellar," with many blankets, 19 coverlids, pillows, bolsters, bottles and pickle-pots, wine-glasses and pewter water-plates. There were also two tables, one "a mahogany spider-make tea-table, £1 11s." and "1 mahogany table £11," showing that articles of this wood obtained good values even then. The list of the goods in all of the rooms of Belvoir is far too long to be given here, but in the dressing-room connected with Colonel Fairfax's bedroom were "I oval glass in burnished gold, (£5 10s.), 1 mahogany shaving-table, 1 mahogany desk (£16 16s.), 4 chairs and covers, I mahogany settee bedstead, Saxon green, covers for same, 1 mahogany Pembroke table, dogs, shovel, tongs and fender."
It is also a matter of interest to see of what books a library consisted among people who were considered to have a literary bent and to be extensive readers. There is nothing "light" about it, and would to-day be accounted very dull reading.
A bed showing better the handsome solid posts is given in Figure 55. This is also associated with the Father of his Country, for it is in the house at Somerville, N. J., occupied by him as headquarters during one of his campaigns in the Revolutionary War.
Figure 55. Bed at Somerville, N. J.
In Chapter I a "bedsteade of carven oak" was referred to as having been sent for to England by Mrs. Lake, as a wedding-present for her daughter. It could hardly have been such a very splendid piece of furniture as that shown in Figure 56, with its coat of arms on the headboard, and the two beautiful foot-posts. The draperies were intended to cover the two head-posts, so that they were left plain. The old easy-chair standing beside the bed has unfortunately lost its feet, but they were the well-known ball-and-claw pattern generally seen on this style of chair, which was well calculated to keep off swirling draughts from the head and back of the occupant. These chair were popular for a century or more, and were made not only by English cabinet-makers like Chippendale and Hepplewhite, but by the Dutch and Flemish makers as well. They all have the bandy leg, but the Dutch foot is sometimes used instead of the ball-and-claw.
But all the luxury and elegance were not absorbed by the South and New York. Boston kept well to the front. In 1700 Andrew Faneuil, Huguenot, came to Boston and engaged in business. His brother was in this country, too, and, he dying not long after, Andrew assumed the care of, and took into business with himself, first one and then a second nephew. They were merchants and the following entries of consignments, taken from their old ledgers, which are still in existence, show the nature of their business. Besides crapes, poplins, lawns, and silks, they had for sale durants and duroys, osnaburgs, camblets, narrow, double and cherry, with ingrains, silk druggets and calamancoes. They also imported dishes, pans, and kettles, "wooden lanthorns and tin ditto" (1725). Nor did they neglect to provide amusement for their fellow townsmen, for they imported "one-half gross man-in-the-moon cards." Among other goods in this same invoice were "1 chest muskets and one large pair looking-glasses."
Andrew Faneuil died in 1738, and his favourite nephew and chief heir, Peter Faneuil, did not hesitate, on account of the cost, to have an elaborate and seemly funeral. Three thousand pairs of gloves were distributed, and later two hundred mourning-rings were given to intimate friends. Peter Faneuil, now a wealthy young man by inheritance as well as by his own exertions, lived in the old house with his maiden sister. This same year, 1738, he sends to London for "a handsome chariot with two setts of harness," and a coachman warranted to remain sober. A few months later he writes for china and glass from England, for table-cloths and napkins from France, and he sends for silver spoons, "forks with three prongs," all to have upon them the Faneuil crest. "Let them be very neat and handsome," says he.
The next order is for silver candlesticks and a punch-bowl of silver holding two gallons, also to be decorated with the family crest. His clothes were also a matter of concern, and he sends to London a pattern of a piece of Duncy, orders buttons of the newest fashion to match it, of mohair silk, and knee-straps. Nor is he less scrupulous about his sister's affairs, and sent all the way back to London six pairs of stockings which had been sent of worsted instead of "3 pairs thread hose, and 1 pair Galous hose, and 2 pair of thread ditto."
Figure 56. Carved Oak Bedstead
Boston at this time (1738) seems to have had some luxuries demanded by New York, for an order comes to Peter Faneuil to send there "a dozen red Turkey or Morocker leather chairs." One of these easy-chairs cost £14. 14 s. In 1742 Peter Faneuil gave to the city of Boston the hall called by his name. It was built of home-made brick (Salem had a brick-kiln as early as 1629), but the glass in the windows was brought from England in Mr. Faneuil's own ships. The first furnishings bought by the selectmen for Faneuil Hall were "two pairs of brass candlesticks with steel snuffers, and a poker, for the town's use."
Peter Faneuil's inventory, filed in 1742, contains items under 158 heads, and makes quite a volume of manuscript. It includes not only his and his uncle's gatherings in the way of household goods, but the contents of warehouses, cellar, coach-house, and stables. The house was handsomely furnished. In the best room were, "12 carved vineered chairs & couch, £105; 1 pier glass, £100." Other costly articles were, "1 buffet with parcel of china delph & glass, £199." There were, besides,
"1 chimney glass and arms; 1 marble table; 1 large Turkey carpet; 1 compleat brass sett, hearth-dogs, tongs, shovel, and bellows; 1 copper tea-table; cups, saucers, tea-pot, stand, bowl and sugar-dish; 3 alabaster bowls and stands; 1 large oval mahogany table, 12 plain walnut-frame leather-bottom chairs; 1 prospect of Boston, 2 landskips on copper, and the Temple of Solomon."
The "Great Centre Hall" must have made a quaint appearance, since here hung the fire apparatus . "1 large entry lantern; 12 baggs and buckets, and books 50."
The sleeping-rooms were handsomely equipped, and each was furnished with its appropriate colour. The list includes:
"1 harrateen bed, bedstead and window curtains, matrass
and two green silk quilts and feather-bed, £65
3 scones with arms
1 bureau, 1 table, 1 pr. brass-faced dogs, 1 fire-shovel, tongs
bellows, and one Turkey carpet, £107."
Peter Faneuil's own room was not lacking in comforts, as is shown by the enumeration of:
"1 silver-hilted sword. 1 pair of pistols and 1 powder-flask, £15; 1 case 6 razors, bone penknife, strap, 2 bottles, looking-glass tipt with silver; yellow mohair bed-counterpane, feather-bed, bolster, 2 false pillows, false curtains, 6 chairs, r great chair, 2 stools, window curtains," etc.
The furnishings of this room, exclusive of the small-arms, was valued at £245. He had "6 lignum-vitζ chocolate-cups lined with silver", which were probably Dutch, for among the goods of Sara Van der Vulgen, of Schenectady, at about this same period, was a great "saler" or salt-cellar, made of lignum-vitae, bound with silver and standing on three little silver feet.
In Mr. Faneuil's kitchen were many utensils of copper, pots, pans, and kettles, together with an "engine and cistern." He had many jewels, 1,400 ounces of plate, including a shaving-basin worth £40. There were silver snuff-boxes, seven gold rings, and "chrystall buttons set in gold." Just before he died he sent to London for "six gross of the very best London King Henry's cards", for his store no doubt, for cards were becoming more popular among the descendants of the Puritans than they had been.
In 1729 Governor Burnet, of New York and Massachusetts, died, leaving behind him a long list of valuable personal goods. He owned as many as seventy chairs and twelve tables. The chairs were of mahogany and walnut, with leather or bass bottoms, and one easy-chair was covered with silk. Twenty-four chairs had seats of red leather, a noble set, and there are two chairs now in the Yale University Library which belonged to Governor Burnet, and which are of the exact style of what we call Chippendale. They were made more than twenty-five years before the "Director" was published, but are made of mahogany with richly carved knees, ball-and-claw feet, with carved and ornamentally pierced splats, handsome upper rail curved and ending in the little ears before mentioned.
In all the inventories of wealthy and poor alike there is mention of candlesticks, sconces, girandoles, etc. The "entry lanthorns," as well as the perforated tin ones, were made to hold bits of candles and lamps are few and far between. It was not till 1783 that the flat-wick lamp was invented, the lamps before that time being pewter and glass, with small, round, string wicks, burning whale oil. When the question of lighting was so difficult, it is no wonder that the pioneers were in the habit of going to bed at dark and rising with the sun. The bayberry or candleberry was of recognized value, and the laws of Brookhaven, as early as 1687, forbade the gathering of the berries before September 15, under a penalty of a fine of fifteen shillings.
Candlewood, as pine knots were called, was burned in the fireplace on long winter evenings. The manufacture of home-made candles was one of the tests by which the careful housewife was distinguished, dozens of candles being made and laid away in the candle-box. In 1753, in the "New York Gazette," were advertised "Green mould candles for sale, at the Old Slip Market." The old moulds, generally of tin, were passed around among neighbours in country districts and villages. "Dipping" candles was a trying business, and required skill and experience on the part of the dipper. Lustres holding many candles were used on festive occasions, and four or six lights were often set in branches on either side of mirrors. Many candlesticks with cut-glass prisms are still to be found, and betty-lamps, crude little metal lamps, were often used for bedrooms or in sick-rooms. "Glass lamps and chamber lamps" were advertised as early as 1759, and "fine large lamps at 20 shilling each" in 1752. Candle-screens, "red, green, gilt and black japanned candlesticks with snuffers and extinguishers", were on sale in 1773, and no card-table was complete without at least a pair of tall massive candlesticks of Sheffield plate.
By 1760 the newspapers contain advertisements of what are really luxuries. James Gilliland, dealer in earthen, delf, and glass in Wall street, New York, has the following named articles: "Enamelled and cabbage teapots [Wedgwood, no doubt], cut and ground glass decanters, tumblers, punch and wine glasses'"
The fair sex is by no means forgotten, and even during the stress of the great struggle for freedom her appearance is considered. Many times the following announcement appears: "The Venetian Paste so well‑known to the ladies for enameling the Hands, neck and face of a lovely white" is for sale by Hugh Gaine, printer. Nesbit Deane offers hats "to exceed in fineness, cut, colour, and cock." He also has "Ladies, white riding hats." "Goods for the approaching season" are duly set forth in the spring advertisements, and "Sagothies, Hairbine, white silk embroidered and tambour with gold shades" are recommended for waistcoats. There was also to be bought "gold and silver vellum lace, gold and silver bullion fringe, silk sashes and hat feathers for the gentlemen of the militia and army." "Spittlefield corded tabbey, peneaffcoes and peling sattens" were to be had in all colours for ladies' use, while "Prunells and Oxford crape" were provided for the "Rev'd clergy."
The servant question was a burning issue even at that time, and there are quantities of rewards offered for runaway slaves and apprentices. Some desperate householder advertised in March, 1777:
"WANTED. A cook, black or white, male or female. Such a person will meet with good encouragement by applying to Hugh Gaine, printer."
Those who did not wish to be annoyed by the labour of housekeeping could be accommodated with "Diet and Lodging," also, by applying to Hugh Gaine, printer.
Other advertisements read:
 "Morrison, peruke maker from London, dresses ladies and gentlemen's hair in the politest taste. He has a choice parcel of human, horse, and goat's hairs to dispose of."
 "James Daniel, wig-maker and hairdresser also operates on the teeth, a business so necessary in this city."
Wigs were an important feature in the costume of the men. They were subject to tax and were a good source of revenue. The Treasurer of the Colony of New York, as early as 1732, reported that he had received from the tax on wigs the sum of £9 17s 6d. This tax was called
"a wise and prudent measure, because it was the fashion for even young boys to conceal their own hair under large and spacious wigs. To repress a custom so absurd, or to make a source of revenue has been the object of the legislature."
So we paid, and gladly, for our wigs, even though visiting Englishmen spoke of us thus: "The people, both in town and country, are sober, industrious, and hospitable, though intent upon gain."
All travellers mention our hospitality. Prince de Broglie writes in 1782:
"M. de la Luzerne took me to tea at Mrs. Morris, wife of the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. Her house is small, but well ordered and neat, the doors and tables of superb well-polished mahogany, the locks and andirons of polished brass, the cups arranged symetrically, the mistress of the house good-looking and very grey."
Mrs. Morris was considered to have one of the handsomest houses in Philadelphia, and it was not at all the mode to display one's own hair if it had turned grey, so the fact of Mrs. Morris doing so seems to have impressed the volatile Frenchman.
Another traveller, Captain Laurence Butler, writes from Westmoreland, Virginia, in 1784, to Mrs. Craddock, an Englishwoman, as follows:
"When balls are given, which is very frequent, the company stay all night (not as in your country). for every gentleman has ten or fifteen beds, which is sufficient for the ladies, and the men shift for themselves,"
These beds were the high four-posters, carved and draped, and ten or fifteen seems a liberal allowance for every household. One Alexander Mackraby, visiting Philadelphia in 1768, before the Revolution, writes home: "I could hardly find myself out this morning in a most elegant crimson silk damask bed." Poor indeed was the householder who did not manage to have one "feder bed," or one of flock, or something soft, and there were always pillows, bolster, coverlids, and blankets, though sometimes, judging from the inventories, the owners did not care particularly about sheets.