I try to imagine the households in which they have lived and the many people that have enjoyed their usefulness.
Antique furniture always had a particular purpose and most get their names from what they were designed to accomplish.
A pie safe always has punched tin inserts on the doors to allow air flow while baked goods cooled and to keep flies away. Another kitchen antique is a Hoosier cabinet. It has a flour sifter, metal bread box (to keep mice away from stored bread), roll-up tambour unit (appliance garage), pull out counter, and sometimes a wire door mounted spice rack.
It’s function was equivalent to the modern day kitchen. It had dish storage at the top, preparation countertop, and storage for most frequently used items.
A true “butcher block” is another kitchen antique that had a unique purpose. It was located in the center of the kitchen, as an island, and because of the enzymes in the wood, meat could be “butchered” in the kitchen. They have a very thick top so it can be sanded many times to expose a new surface area to chop on. They did not have bacteria fighting cleaners, so nature took their place. People were exposed to more elements long ago and it helped build up their resistance to germs.
If you notice most antiques are light weight and relatively small in nature. They may seem to be robust but are skeletal inside, allowing maximum storage.
They were designed so they could be moved and transported easily. They had to travel by boat, train or wagon back in the day.
When you think of the size of an antique bed they are never any larger than a full size. They may be ornate, with large posts or canopies but they disassemble for limited space during travel.
One of the most diverse furniture pieces are storage chests and trunks. They are sometimes on casters for easy movement in and out of ships and trains. They held most all belongings and were used as closets, tables, and seating in the home.
They are used for almost the same things today.
One of the most interesting antiques I have seen was at the home of Dene and Hubert McCullough.
It was a “rent table,” they were using as their kitchen table.
It is round and features drawers around the perimeter. It can be turned so that the land owner could sit in his chair and when tenants came to pay their rent; he turned to “their” drawer and unlocked it, and placed their money in the appropriate drawer.
I feel in the fast pace we are all moving in today, it is calming to see and understand were many of the modern day conveniences we enjoy originated.
Antiques have interesting stories to tell, if we can just find the time to listen.