Mahogany And Satinwood Secretaire Bookcase

7 ft. 3 ins. high 3 ft. 7! ins. wide. Upper part, 12J ins. deep; lower part, 1 ft. 9J ins. deep. Date ahout 1795-18(10.

the cost was not increased —had become almost automatic. As a design nothing could be liner, within its limits, than Fig. 296 ; and in Fig. 297 the veneers have been well chosen and used with considerable discrimination. In this example the appearance would have been still further enhanced had the French bracket plinth been left in its original state instead of being cut down to fit the low rooms of a later generation. In the lower carcase, behind the doors, are three long drawers, the appearance of which suggest that the bookcase was intended to also fulfil the functions of a wardrobe.

The famine years from 1795 to 1S00, and again during the height of the Napoleonic wars, had resulted in a necessary increase in the wages of the town-dwelling artisan, and the cost of furniture was enhanced in a corresponding ratio. With the mere village joiner, however, this rise in wages was hardly appreciable; he existed on the same plane as the agri-

cultural labourer, upon whom practically the whole brunt of the hard times had fallen. This difference in the rate of wages, and consequently in the cost of production, resulted in a marked slackness in the trade of the metropolitan cabinet-maker and a corresponding increase in that of the village joiner. Sheraton's Drawing Book had permeated the trade of his time (a far less formidable proposition than would have been the case some fifty years later), and the principles of his style were generally comprehended in a rough-and-readv fashion. Country pieces, however, were seldom justly proportioned ; the knowledge which comes from long practice in shops where line furniture was continually made, and in large quantities, was lacking. The single-handed village joiner had neither ——■^■gegg^g^SISSSk the experience nor the facilities of his London brethren, nor that of Ins fellow-tradesmen working in large towns. Fig. 298 is a good example of the country piece of the last five years of the eighteenth century. The revival of the details of forgotten fashions, the absence of all proportion—as in the placing of such a heavy piece of furniture on six diminutive tapered legs—the " cribbing " from here, there, and everywhere, and the combination of such details to the utter destruction of all harmony, will be noticed by those who have thus far followed the development of English furniture during the later eighteenth century. As some compensation for the poorness of the design, however, the veneers are well selected, and the general workmanship is of quite a respectable standard.

  1. 299 marks a return to London fashions and proportions. The door tracerv. is characteristic of the
  2. 299. MAHOGANY BOOKCASE. 7 ft. 3 ins. high 3 ft. 9J ins. wide. Upper carcase: III ins. deep. Lower carcase: 1 ft. 7 ins. deep. n,.ti- <ihni,t 1795-1X00


4 ¡1. Iu ins. high x 2 ft. I in. wide a I2i ins. deep. Date about 1795.


4 ¡1. Iu ins. high x 2 ft. I in. wide a I2i ins. deep. Date about 1795.

Hepplewhite period, but the details of workmanship, the pattern of the cornice and of the inlaying of the lower doors indicate a later date. The stump feet are later additions, probably replacing a cut out plinth of the familiar " bracket " type. Fig. 300 is a typical Sheraton example, a cabinet of open shelving above a cupboard with solid panelled doors. The shaping of the sides and the arrangement of the shelves show that these cabinets were intended for the display of china rather than to hold books. In this piece both East and West India satinwoods are used in combination, the latter in the panels of the doors. Although both kinds are known by the general title of satinwood, they are in reality quite distinct species, the first being of the family of Cedrelacece, the second the timber of Feroliu Giiianensis. The former is a native of Ceylon and the Coro-mandel coast, the latter of Guiana. East India satinwood does not appear to have been imported, or was certainly not used much before about 1795. It is rare even in Sheraton work, and is never found in authentic Hepplewhite examples.

Fig. 302.

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