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Antique Furniture Academy

Antique Furniture Academy - Linen Press

Antique Furniture Academy - Linen Press

So today I thought we could talk about linen presses and what inspired the common design traits used in their construction...

The linen press is an evolution borne out of the growing demand for domestic storage during the second half of the seventeenth Century where previously a provincially produced oak coffer chest or walnut 'cassoni/cassone' (often constructed in situ) would have sufficed. However the top-down nature of coffer chests means access was not ideal for items stored at the bottom, requiring everything to be unpacked and then repacked. The hinged tops were seen as impractical and so twin front doors on upright cupboards became increasingly popular.

During the seventeenth Century, inspired by earlier renaissance precedents, these presses began to be made in dedicated workshops and were constructed to be split into parts for transportation to their final destinations. This was an important development in the history of furniture manufacture as designs and working practices became more standardised and they moved away from their provincial roots.

During the eighteenth Century Thomas Sheraton and George Hepplewhite adopted the Neo-classical designs of the Parisian greek revival such as fitting sliding trays (presses) enclosed by the cupboard doors in the upper section and a standard chest of drawers below.



 

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Antique Furniture Academy: Bureaux

Antique Furniture Academy: Bureaux

Continuing with our 'Academy' we take a look at aspects of traditional writing bureaux

A bureau is broadly defined by it's fitted writing desk interior which is concealed behind a 'fall-front' or 'drop flap'. The fall front usually rests on two arms that extend from the front of the bureau and can be inlaid with a tooled leather or felt writing pad. The hidden writing compartment is most commonly complimented with a bank of lockable drawers below providing significant additional storage space. Older examples were often cunningly fitted with various secret drawers and compartments to provide additional security in an age before banks and safety deposit boxes.

From the Millers Antique Guide: "Bureau: The French name for a type of desk with a hinged sloping top set above a chest of drawers. The top comes down to form an even writing surface behind which were are drawers and pigeonholes variously arranged."

A bureau is very similar both in form and function to a secretaire. The principal difference being that a secretaire will usually have the fitted interior writing compartment, again often inlaid with tooled leather or felt writing pad, hidden behind a hinged vertical drop flap.

In many ways with the recent trend for tablet computers and laptops over taking the traditional 'Tower PC' (big box) makes this type of furniture very much relevant and utilitarian once again. It does seem somewhat ironic that new technology should breathe life into antique furniture which was becoming increasingly 'ornamental' and now serves a purpose once again! Quite where the technology will take us next is anybodies guess...

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