Did you know that Lady Georgina Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire (Princess Diana’s great-great-great-great aunt), once openly opined to a footman, “I wish to God you wouldn’t keep rubbing your great greasy belly against the back of my chair?”
Now whether that is why we have dumb waiters is not certain. But, what is certain is that dumb waiters were found to be very convenient for 18th century diners who did not relish eavesdropping servants attending to them the entire meal.
The basic concept of dumb waiters was to hold additional plates and utensils or cheese and dessert and possibly glasses and bottles to which diners could help themselves following dinner. Generally consisting of three tiers of rotating trays that graduated in size from the bottom to top, dumb waiters were also equipped with castors so they could be easily moved from the side of the room and closer to the table.
While most meals today are less likely to have a footman present, dumb waiters still offer the convenience of having everything at one’s fingertips. What could be more convenient than finding a variety of fine 18th century dumb waiters only at Mill House Antiques. More than an ordinary experience.
Did you know that small chests of drawers are often called bachelor chests? In the 18th century, single men did not possess much and what they did possess did not require much storage space—thus, the advent of the bachelor chest. However, these chests offered more than just storage for trousers, pants, shirts and collars. In fact, they served a multitude of purposes for the man about town.
With early versions, bachelors could fold over the top and rest it on lopers — the slides that pulled out from the chest. Et voilà, the bachelor had a writing surface. Over time, these chests incorporated a brush slide upon which a young, fashionable gent could tend to his clothes as well as conduct correspondence.
This fine example of a bachelor chest sports such a slide. Well proportioned and immaculately appointed with string inlay, the bachelor who owned this chest wanted only the finest. And so should you. Find this bachelor chest as well as other fine examples only at Mill House Antiques. More than an ordinary experience.
Did you know that the fishing vessel known as a smack takes its name from the Old Dutch word smak, which means a sharp noise or slapping sound? According to nautical lore, smacks were given their name for the sound the ochre colored sails made when the slack was taken up by the wind. Did you also know why British smacks had the ochre colored sails? This particular color was the result of a waterproofing that was applied to the cotton fabric used for sail making.
The image of fleets of these fishing smacks with their ochre colored sails must have been a sight to behold. So too is this 19th century model. Expertly constructed and outfitted with the tiniest of details, this model not only captures the uniqueness of these vessels but can also be discovered only at Mill House Antiques. More than an ordinary experience.
Did you know that French Morbier clocks strike twice on the hour? If you are not familiar with them, Morbier clocks were provincial clocks that had many hands in its manufacture. Various parts were often made by village farmers or idol workers during the long cold winter months and then assembled by a local clocksmith.
Though common in their origin, Morbier clocks had the unique quality of striking twice on the hour. Some say it was so that a person could catch the exact time on the second striking. Another reason put forward was to remind people of prayers. The story, which is far from religious or practical, is the double strike reminded lovers that they had just a few minutes to get dressed before the arrival of the spouse.
Whichever reason you prefer, you can also have your preference of Morbiers like these two fine examples at Mill House Antiques. More than an ordinary experience.
Do you know the difference between a tea table and a game table?
Quite simply, the tea table has a polished surface on the interior and a game table has a baize surface. With the fashion of taking tea and other refreshments, the folding side table became quite common in 18th century homes. While the tables with baize interiors were used for the most part as game tables, tea tables with their polished interiors were certainly more functional.
Take these simple, yet elegant tables. Which do you think is a game table and which is a tea table?
Not sure, discover the answer for yourself at Mill House Antiques. More than an ordinary experience.
While our 17 showrooms are complete with the finest European antiques assembled in one place, it is also our workshop that has helped establish Mill House as destination for over 50 years and differentiates us.
We don’t just remove a piece from a container and put it on the floor. Au contraire, every antique is thoroughly examined by our own craftsmen, who employ the same fine techniques pioneered centuries ago to conserve and restore each piece. And when an antique is sold, it goes back through the workshop for the same thorough inspection. Not one antique leaves Mill House unless it meets our high standards as we believe an antique should not only decorate a home but be used.
So when you purchase an antique from Mill House, you can be confident that it will endure for another lifetime or two.
Did you know that Welsh dressers were not only for displaying one’s plates, but in some cases, chickens too?
Some ingenious cabinet maker probably under the direction of a mad cook tired of tramping outside to gather the day’s dinner made what is simply known as a chicken coop dresser. All the cook had to do is lift one of its gates, grab a hold of a sure to be squawking bird, plop it down on the work table, and grab the cleaver. Well, you know the rest of the story.
Not many of these dressers survived, as their popularity was not widespread. However, this fine example exhibits all the wonderful peculiarities of a coop dresser with its duplex structure and plate rack on the top. While rare, it can be discovered only at Mill House Antiques. More than an ordinary experience.
Did you know that joint stools were also referred to as coffin stools? Due to their sturdy nature, these stools were used in the home to support the deceased’s coffin as friends and family gathered to pay their respect.
Of course, unless you were wealthy in the 17th century, there was not much else for the common folk to sit on except a stool, which is why they were quite plentiful. Certainly a very functional piece of furniture, the joint stool remained popular throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
With the Jacobean Revival of the 1880s, the joint stool also enjoyed a return to the limelight. Take this Jacobean Revival stool with its handsomely carved legs and apron. With its distinctive carving and drawer incorporated into the apron, it is not only unusual, but only at Mill House Antiques. More than an ordinary experience.
Did you know that a cheval derives its name from old French for horse? Known as horse dressing glasses, these large, free-standing mirrors did not come into existence until the early 1800s when producing large sheets of glass became possible.
The reason for this association with the horse is that these mirrors were held by large frames or horses and not because of their “use by sartorially conscious cavalry officers”. No doubt this handsome cheval was the possession of a well-heeled gentleman, or even an officer. Made of the finest burl walnut and detailed with ebonized accents, a cheval of this quality is a rare find today and only at Mill House Antiques. More than an ordinary experience.
Prior to the advent of matches, spill vases were placed on mantels from which a stick or rolled paper would be lit from the fireplace and used to light candles, lamps or even pipes. Spill is derived from the Middle English word spille or small piece of wood. The earliest example of a spill vase goes back to the 1500s and they were commonly found in English homes in the 18th and 19th centuries.
While utilitarian in nature, spill vases were often highly decorative and made in various materials, including, brass, porcelain and pottery. Take this wonderful Staffordshire spill vase with its quaint country theme. The wonderful metaphorical composition of the cow and the calf next to the dead tree, which serves as the vase, is an excellent example of Victorian ornamental design. This and other fine spill vases can be found only at Mill House Antiques.
More than an ordinary experience.