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Carpenters’ Furniture

IT requires a far search to gather up examples of furniture really representative in this kind, and thus to gain a point of view for a prospect into the more ideal where furniture no longer is bought to look expensively useless in a boudoir, but serves everyday and commonplace need, such as must always be the wont, where most men work, and exchange in some sort life for life.

The best present-day example is the deal table in those last places to be vulgarised, farm-house or cottage kitchen. But in the Middle Ages things as simply made as a kitchen table, mere carpenters’ framings, were decorated to the utmost stretch of the imagination by means simple and rude as their construction. Design, indeed, really fresh and penetrating, co-exists it seems only with simplest conditions.

Simple, serviceable movables fall into few kinds: the box, cupboard, and table, the stool, bench, and chair. The box was once the most frequent, useful, and beautiful of all these; now it is never made as furniture. Often it was seat, coffer, and table in one, with chequers inlaid on the top for chess. There are a great number of chests in England as early as the thirteenth century. One type of construction, perhaps the earliest, is to clamp the wood-work together and beautifully decorate it by branching scrolls of ironwork. Another kind was ornamented by a sort of butter-print patterning, cut into the wood in ingenious fillings to squares and circles, which you can imitate by drawing the intersecting lines the compasses seem to make of their own will in a circle, and cutting down each space to a shallow V. This simple carpenter’s decoration is especially identified with chests. The same kind of work is still done in Iceland and Norway, the separate compartments often brightly painted into a mosaic of colour; or patterns of simple scroll-work are made out in incised line and space. In Italy this charming art of incising was carried much farther in the cassoni, the fronts of which, broad planks of cypress wood, are often romantic with quite a tapestry of kings and ladies, beasts, birds, and foliage, cut in outline with a knife and punched with dots, the cavities being filled with a coloured mastic like sealing-wax. Panelling, rough inlaying in the solid, carving and painting, and casing with repoussé or pierced metal, or covering with leather incised into designs, and making out patterns with nail-heads, were all methods of decoration used by the maker of boxes: other examples, and those not the least stately, had no other ornament than the purfling at the edges formed by ingeniously elaborate dovetails fitting together like a puzzle and showing a pattern like an inlay.

When people work naturally, it is as wearisome and unnecessary often to repeat the same design as to continually paint the same picture. Design comes by designing. On the one hand tradition carefully and continuously shapes the object to fill its use, on the other spontaneous and eager excursions are made into the limitless fields of beautiful device. Where construction and form are thus the result of a long tradition undisturbed by fashion, they are always absolutely right as to use and distinctive as to beauty, the construction being not only visible, but one with the decoration. Take a present-day survival, the large country cart, the body shaped like the waist of a sailing ship, and every rail and upright unalterably logical, and then decorated by quaint chamferings, the facets of which are made out in brightest paint. Or look at an old table, always with stretching rails at the bottom and framed together with strong tenons and cross pins into turned posts, but so thoughtfully done that every one is original and all beautiful. Turning, a delightful old art, half for convenience, half for beauty, itself comes down to us from long before the Conquest.

 The great charm in furniture of the simplest structure may best be seen in old illuminated manuscripts, where a chest, a bench, and against the wall a cupboard, the top rising in steps where are set out tall “Venice glasses,” or a “garnish” of plate under a tester of some bright stuff, make up a whole of fairy beauty in the frank simplicity of the forms and the innocent gaiety of bright colour. Take the St. Jerome in his study of Dürer or Bellini, and compare the dignity of serene and satisfying order with the most beautifully furnished room you know: how vulgar our good taste appears and how foreign to the end of culture—Peace.

From records, and what remains to us, we know that the room, the hangings, and the furniture were patterned all over with scattered flowers and inscriptions—violets and the words “bonne pensée“; or vases of lilies and “pax,” angels and incense pots, ciphers and initials, badges and devices, or whatever there be of suggestion and mystery. The panelling and furniture were “green like a curtain,” as the old accounts have it; or vermilion and white, like some painted chairs at Knole; or even decorated with paintings and gilt gesso patterns like the Norfolk screens. Fancy a bed with the underside of the canopy having an Annunciation or spreading trellis of roses, and the chamber carved like one in thirteenth-century romance:—

N’a el monde beste n’oisel
Qui n’i soit ovré à cisel.”

If we would know how far we are from the soul of art, we have but to remember that all this, the romance element in design, the joy in life, nature, and colour, which in one past development we call Gothic, and which is ever the well of beauty undefiled, is not now so much impossible of attainment as entirely out of range with our spirit and life, a felt anachronism and affectation.

All art is sentiment embodied in form. To find beauty we must consider what really gives us pleasure—pleasure, not pride—and show our unashamed delight in it; “and so, when we have leisure to be happy and strength to be simple we shall find Art again”—the art of the workman.

W. R. Lethaby.

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Quotations

The painter ought to be solitary and consider what he sees, discussing it with himself in order to select the most excellent parts of whatever he sees.

— Leonardo Da Vinci

The Treasure of Abbot Thomas – from Ghost Stories of M.R. James

I

Verum usque in præsentem diem multa garriunt inter se Canonici de abscondito quodam istius Abbatis Thomæ thesauro, quem sæpe, quanquam adhuc incassum, quæsiverunt Steinfeldenses. Ipsum enim Thomam adhuc florida in ætate existentem ingentem auri massam circa monasterium defodisse perhibent; de quo multoties interrogatus ubi esset, cum risu respondere solitus erat: “Job, [...] Read more →

The Age of Chivalry

CHAPTER 1 – Introduction

KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS

On the decline of the Roman power, about five centuries after Christ, the countries of Northern Europe were left almost destitute of a national government. Numerous chiefs, more or less powerful, held local sway, as far as each [...] Read more →

The History of Witchcraft in England – The Beginnings

The Beginnings of English Witchcraft

It has been said by a thoughtful writer that the subject of witchcraft has hardly received that place which it deserves in the history of opinions. There has been, of course, a reason for this neglect—the fact that the belief in witchcraft is no longer [...] Read more →

Penal Methods of the Middle Ages

CHAPTER I

PENAL METHODS OF THE MIDDLE AGES

Prisons as places of detention are very ancient institutions. As soon as men had learned the way to build, in stone, as in Egypt, or with bricks, as in Mesopotamia, when kings had many-towered fortresses, and the great barons castles [...] Read more →

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Clarivoyance by C.W. Leadbeater

Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, India, 1890

CLAIRVOYANCE

by C. W. Leadbeater

Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House

[1899]

CHAPTER IX

METHODS OF DEVELOPMENT

When a men becomes convinced of the reality of the valuable [...] Read more →

Westminster Confession of Faith – 1646

CHAPTER I. Of the Holy Scripture.

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Platform of the American Institute of Banking in 1919

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Parting Words to Kate from The Sloop of War, Jamestown

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Several years ago, I purchased a small memory book entitled Album of Love from the mid 1800s.

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Historic authenticity of the Spanish SAN FELIPE of 1690

Model of San Felipe

Reprinted from FineModelShips.com with the kind permission of Dr. Michael Czytko

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The Late Rev. H.M. Scarth

H. M. Scarth, Rector of Wrington

By the death of Mr. Scarth on the 5th of April, at Tangier, where he had gone for his health’s sake, the familiar form of an old and much valued Member of the Institute has passed away. Harry Mengden Scarth was bron at Staindrop in Durham, [...] Read more →

Classic Restoration of a Spring Tied Upholstered Chair

This video by AT Restoration is the best hands on video I have run across on the basics of classic upholstery. Watch a master at work. Simply amazing.

Tools:

Round needles: https://amzn.to/2S9IhrP Double pointed hand needle: https://amzn.to/3bDmWPp Hand tools: https://amzn.to/2Rytirc Staple gun (for beginner): https://amzn.to/2JZs3x1 Compressor for pneumatic [...] Read more →

A History of the Use of Arsenicals in Man

The arsenicals (compounds which contain the heavy metal element arsenic, As) have a long history of use in man – with both benevolent and malevolent intent. The name ‘arsenic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘arsenikon’ which means ‘potent'”. As early as 2000 BC, arsenic trioxide, obtained from smelting copper, was used [...] Read more →

Books Condemned to be Burnt

BOOKS CONDEMNED TO BE BURNT.

By

JAMES ANSON FARRER,

LONDON

ELLIOT STOCK, 62, PATERNOSTER ROW

1892

———-

WHEN did books first come to be burnt in England by the common hangman, and what was [...] Read more →

U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act – Full Text

UNITED STATES PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION ACT

TITLE I – PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION OFFICE Chapter Section 1. Organization and Publications . 1 2. Legal Provisions as to the Plant Variety Protection Office . 21 3. Plant Variety Protection Fees . 31

CHAPTER 1.-ORGANIZATION AND PUBLICATIONS Section 1. Establishment.2 There is [...] Read more →

The Master of Hounds

Photo Caption: The Marquis of Zetland, KC, PC – otherwise known as Lawrence Dundas Son of: John Charles Dundas and: Margaret Matilda Talbot born: Friday 16 August 1844 died: Monday 11 March 1929 at Aske Hall Occupation: M.P. for Richmond Viceroy of Ireland Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord – in – Waiting [...] Read more →

Here’s Many a Year to You

” Here’s many a year to you ! Sportsmen who’ve ridden life straight. Here’s all good cheer to you ! Luck to you early and late.

Here’s to the best of you ! You with the blood and the nerve. Here’s to the rest of you ! What of a weak moment’s swerve ? [...] Read more →

The Hunt Saboteur

The Hunt Saboteur is a national disgrace barking out loud, black mask on her face get those dogs off, get them off she did yell until a swift kick from me mare her voice it did quell and sent the Hunt Saboteur scurrying up vale to the full cry of hounds drowning out her [...] Read more →

The Billesden Coplow Run

Smith, Charles Loraine; The Billesdon Coplow Run, Leicestershire

*note – Billesdon and Billesden have both been used to name the hunt.

BILLESDEN COPLOW POEM

[From “Reminiscences of the late Thomas Assheton Smith, Esq”]

The run celebrated in the following verses took place on the 24th of February, 1800, [...] Read more →

The Kalmar War

The Kalmar War

From The Historian’s History of the World (In 25 Volumes) by Henry Smith William L.L.D. – Vol. XVI.(Scandinavia) Pg. 308-310

The northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula, as already noticed, had been peopled from the remotest times by nomadic tribes called Finns or Cwenas by the Norwegians and Lapps [...] Read more →