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apothecary chest

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  • Brett Chandler-Finch
    Does anyone know if the wooden apothecary chests with the multiple drawers were within period.
    Message 1 of 20 , Mar 31, 2008
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      Does anyone know if the wooden apothecary chests with the multiple
      drawers were within period.
    • Amy Provost
      Yes, I believe so. Check out this museum link and click on a tour through the exhibition in the top
      Message 2 of 20 , Mar 31, 2008
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        Yes, I believe so.  Check out this museum link and click on "a tour through the exhibition" in the top corner.

        Ameline

        On Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 8:21 AM, Brett Chandler-Finch <goldweard@...> wrote:

        Does anyone know if the wooden apothecary chests with the multiple
        drawers were within period.




        --
        www.crookedwall.org
        www.bthumbstudios.com
      • Shield of Peace
        ... They might not be period to *Europe*, but remember that many rare spices and herbs were brought from the Far East. Apothecary cabinets are standard decor
        Message 3 of 20 , Mar 31, 2008
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          On Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 11:30 AM, Marian Walke <marian@...> wrote:
          >
          > However, I do not think the appothecary chests are period. The examples
          > shown at the museum are 18th century or later. And the site says:
          >
          > "Wooden boxes from the gothic period with a green, red, or blue ground
          > coat arranged in long ranks once embellished the officines of medieval
          > dispensaries with their attractive decorations, but they are very rare
          > now."

          They might not be period to *Europe*, but remember that many rare
          spices and herbs were brought from the Far East. Apothecary cabinets
          are standard decor in Chinese furniture even today. I suspect they are
          period for Far and Middle Eastern cultures, and possibly for (at
          least) Southern Europe. As herbs became more widely available, the
          size of what they were stored in would naturally increase from
          hand-held boxes to furniture.

          Also, reading the text of the Heidelberg page more closely, it does
          refer to the furniture displayed used to prepare prescriptions, with
          access to the customer only becoming available starting in the 17th
          century. The web page does have the museum's phone number and email -
          why not ask them? (And yes, they speak good English there, it's a
          major tourist attraction.)

          Aquilina
        • Marian Walke
          ... The tour is wonderful! Thank you for the link. However, I do not think the appothecary chests are period. The examples shown at the museum are 18th
          Message 4 of 20 , Mar 31, 2008
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            > Brett Chandler-Finch wrote:
            > Does anyone know if the wooden apothecary chests with the multiple
            > drawers were within period.

            > Amy Provost wrote:
            > Yes, I believe so. Check out this museum link
            > <http://www.deutsches-apotheken-museum.de/indexe.htm> and click on "a
            > tour through the exhibition" in the top corner. <rundkure.htm>


            The tour is wonderful! Thank you for the link.

            However, I do not think the appothecary chests are period. The examples
            shown at the museum are 18th century or later. And the site says:

            "Wooden boxes from the gothic period with a green, red, or blue ground
            coat arranged in long ranks once embellished the officines of medieval
            dispensaries with their attractive decorations, but they are very rare
            now."

            This accords with a description I found of an Elizabethan apothecary's
            shop, where the things were stored in jars or boxes on shelves or in
            sacks on the floor.

            --Old Marian
          • julian wilson
            This humble veteran soldier and woodworker ventures to agree with Aquilina. Peter Spufford in his wonderful, meticulously-researched and referenced work The
            Message 5 of 20 , Apr 1, 2008
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               This humble veteran soldier and woodworker ventures to agree with Aquilina.

              Peter Spufford in his wonderful, meticulously-researched and referenced work "The Merchant in medieval Europe" - makes it very clear that merchantable items originating from India and the medieval Pacific Rim cultures were traded from Merchant-to Merchant all the way into medieval Western Europe. With the huge trade in medicinal herbs, this humble historian would be absolutely astonished if Arabic and/or Oriental "apothecary chests" hadn't found their way along those trade routes into Western Europe, packed with herbs and spices.

              The fact that no examples of an item have survived from medieval times into this 3rd Millenium in a particular geographical area, doesn't mean there never were any there "in-period".

              Looking back over the last 60 years as an enthusiastic and dedicated but amateur historian, I have seen so many "absolute last-word" statements by "accepted historical Authorities" overturned by later discoveries and research,  - that I tend to be very, very cautious these days about accepting any statements of such a nature as "oh, one country had this but none were ever traded to another country, so you can't use that with your persona". 

               Documentation/references may be lacking, extant museum examples may be lacking, but one can never be sure that medieval merchants hadn't traded anything and everything they thought might make them a profit. And, for me at the least, Peter Spufford makes it very plain that medieval merchants traded over far greater distances than I was ever taught in my High-School History  60 years ago.

               

              In humble Service to the Light, and to Drachenwald,

              Matthew Baker

            • Shield of Peace
              ... Will this do? http://www.gg-art.com/news/show.php?photo=631l3.jpg Aquilina
              Message 6 of 20 , Apr 1, 2008
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                On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 9:29 PM, Marian Walke <marian@...> wrote:
                >
                > All right, if anyone has evidence of apothecary chests in the Middle
                > East or the Orient before 1600. But I haven't seen such evidence yet.
                > What evidence do you have?

                Will this do?

                http://www.gg-art.com/news/show.php?photo=631l3.jpg

                Aquilina
              • Marian Walke
                ... All right, if anyone has evidence of apothecary chests in the Middle East or the Orient before 1600. But I haven t seen such evidence yet. What evidence
                Message 7 of 20 , Apr 1, 2008
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                  julian wilson wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > This humble veteran soldier and woodworker ventures to agree with Aquilina.
                  >
                  > Peter Spufford in his wonderful, meticulously-researched and referenced
                  > work "The Merchant in medieval Europe" - makes it very clear that
                  > merchantable items originating from India and the medieval Pacific Rim
                  > cultures were traded from Merchant-to Merchant all the way into medieval
                  > Western Europe. With the huge trade in medicinal herbs, this humble
                  > historian would be absolutely astonished if Arabic and/or Oriental
                  > "apothecary chests" hadn't found their way along those trade routes into
                  > Western Europe, packed with herbs and spices.

                  All right, if anyone has evidence of apothecary chests in the Middle
                  East or the Orient before 1600. But I haven't seen such evidence yet.
                  What evidence do you have?

                  On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that Western Europe did
                  NOT have apothecary chests-of-drawers at this time. For one thing,
                  chests of drawers were fairly rare in period -- simple chests with lids
                  were more common. For another, there are paintings of apothecaries and
                  descriptions of their shops which mention other methods of storage,
                  usually boxes or jars on shelves.

                  See: Adriaen van Ostade, An Apothecary Smoking in an Interior 1646

                  See picture of an apothecary's shop at
                  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Interior_of_Apothecary%27s_Shop.jpg

                  Read description of a visit to an apothecary in Ortho-epia Gallica by
                  John Eliot, 1593.

                  So I'm not saying these things didn't exist in period, but before we
                  assume that the DID, I'd like to see some evidence to counter the
                  evidence I've found that they didn't.

                  Old Marian (crankier than usual)
                • Shield of Peace
                  ... Not that I was able to find surfing around on the net, but I might be able to find something in the husband s library. I have the interest in herbalism,
                  Message 8 of 20 , Apr 1, 2008
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                    On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 10:46 PM, Marian Walke <marian@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Shield of Peace wrote:
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 9:29 PM, Marian Walke <marian@...
                    > > <mailto:marian%40buttery.org>> wrote:
                    > > >
                    > > > All right, if anyone has evidence of apothecary chests in the Middle
                    > > > East or the Orient before 1600. But I haven't seen such evidence yet.
                    > > > What evidence do you have?
                    > >
                    > > Will this do?
                    >
                    > Well, it's lovely. But according to the caption it's 17th or 18th
                    > century, not Medieval nor pre-1600.
                    >
                    > Do you have anything earlier?

                    Not that I was able to find surfing around on the net, but I might be
                    able to find something in the husband's library. I have the interest
                    in herbalism, but he's the one with a Kara-Khitan (Liao dynasty)
                    persona.

                    I also think it's still a good idea to call or email Heidelberg. I've
                    been to that museum - it was the first time I ever saw such cabinets,
                    and I seem to recall that some of the furniture they have is pre-1700.
                    I cannot vouch for pre-1600, but they might be able to.

                    Aquilina
                  • Marian Walke
                    ... Well, it s lovely. But according to the caption it s 17th or 18th century, not Medieval nor pre-1600. Do you have anything earlier? --Old Marian
                    Message 9 of 20 , Apr 1, 2008
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                      Shield of Peace wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      > On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 9:29 PM, Marian Walke <marian@...
                      > <mailto:marian%40buttery.org>> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > All right, if anyone has evidence of apothecary chests in the Middle
                      > > East or the Orient before 1600. But I haven't seen such evidence yet.
                      > > What evidence do you have?
                      >
                      > Will this do?

                      Well, it's lovely. But according to the caption it's 17th or 18th
                      century, not Medieval nor pre-1600.

                      Do you have anything earlier?

                      --Old Marian
                    • Marian
                      ... Middle ... evidence yet. = ... Yes, if someone wanted to do this, there might be evidence of such furniture used in period. But until then, I will remain
                      Message 10 of 20 , Apr 1, 2008
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                        > > > On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 9:29 PM, Marian Walke wrote:
                        > > > >
                        > > > > All right, if anyone has evidence of apothecary chests in the
                        Middle
                        > > > > East or the Orient before 1600. But I haven't seen such
                        evidence yet.
                        =>
                        > I also think it's still a good idea to call or email Heidelberg. I've
                        > been to that museum - it was the first time I ever saw such cabinets,
                        > and I seem to recall that some of the furniture they have is pre-1700.
                        > I cannot vouch for pre-1600, but they might be able to.
                        >
                        > Aquilina
                        >

                        Yes, if someone wanted to do this, there might be evidence of such
                        furniture used in period. But until then, I will remain a doubter.

                        --Old Marian
                      • Carowyn Silveroak
                        Greetings, Can someone refresh my memory - was an apothecary chest found on the Mary Rose wreck? I could easily be mis-remembering, or remembering a
                        Message 11 of 20 , Apr 1, 2008
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                          Greetings,
                           
                          Can someone refresh my memory - was an "apothecary chest" found on the Mary Rose wreck?  I could easily be mis-remembering, or remembering a different type of chest.  Shoulda bought that book from Poison Press......*scribble on wish list*
                           
                          -Carowyn
                           
                           
                           
                        • Shield of Peace
                          ... Frankly, I won t. The size and complexity of the piece in question that was dated to the 17th century, while it is listed as rare today, combined with the
                          Message 12 of 20 , Apr 2, 2008
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                            On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 11:03 PM, Marian <marian@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > > > > On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 9:29 PM, Marian Walke wrote:
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > All right, if anyone has evidence of apothecary chests in the
                            > Middle
                            > > > > > East or the Orient before 1600. But I haven't seen such
                            > evidence yet.
                            > =>
                            > > I also think it's still a good idea to call or email Heidelberg. I've
                            > > been to that museum - it was the first time I ever saw such cabinets,
                            > > and I seem to recall that some of the furniture they have is pre-1700.
                            > > I cannot vouch for pre-1600, but they might be able to.
                            > >
                            > > Aquilina
                            > >
                            >
                            > Yes, if someone wanted to do this, there might be evidence of such
                            > furniture used in period. But until then, I will remain a doubter.

                            Frankly, I won't. The size and complexity of the piece in question
                            that was dated to the 17th century, while it is listed as rare today,
                            combined with the plethora of modern reproductions, indicates that it
                            was a common design in it's day. The Chinese are well known for the
                            historical persistence of their culture - when they find something
                            that works well for them, they do it for centuries. I would not be a
                            bit surprised to find that smaller but similar pieces existed in
                            period. Certainly other forms of cabinets for manuscripts and altars
                            have been traced to period dynasties.Ming is the one in question, but
                            it extends from 1368 through 1644. That's another indicator that the
                            piece style could be period, in fact - the invading Mongols of the
                            previous Yuan dynasty brought many very practical furniture designs
                            with them, and they were very big on small, easily transported
                            cabinets. And the Ming dynasty spans the century mark, which means
                            customs that existed directly after that mark are extremely likely to
                            have been in fashion prior to it.

                            This is an interesting question to me, since I've been using one of
                            those goofy little Ikea multi-drawer things for my own herb storage
                            for years, but have always lusted after some of the gorgeous rosewood
                            apothecary cabinets I've seen on display in Chinese furniture stores.
                            It is fortunate that my husband has an excellent home library on
                            ancient China - I'll let you know if I dig anything up. But it would
                            be faster to just ask the museum. :)

                            And not meaning to make anyone cranky. Mellow out and groove with
                            nature, Marian. :)

                            Aquilina
                          • julian wilson
                            I ve a copy of Before The Mast and my Lady is very interested in medieval medicine and surgery - and I don t recall seeing one mentioned in the text and
                            Message 13 of 20 , Apr 2, 2008
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                              I've a copy of "Before The Mast" and my Lady is very interested in medieval medicine and surgery - and I don't recall seeing one mentioned in the text and wonderful drawings.

                              From what I recall, the Barber Surgeon only had a dovetailed chest - in which his equipment was found - and the book has very good illustrations and sectioned drawings of all the containers found therein.

                              The chest is interesting in and of itself, - though.

                              Because, IIRC, no English-provenanced dovetailed joints of that period have been recorded; and the Mary Rose Barber-Surgeon's chest is the earliest dovetail-jointed chest ever found in the UK.

                              "Before The Mast" suggests the chest must have been acquired in Europe - where the dovetail is known to have been in use at that date - but not apparently used by English woodworkers!

                               

                              In humble service,

                              Julian

                              --- On Wed, 2/4/08, Carowyn Silveroak <silveroak@...> wrote:

                              From: Carowyn Silveroak <silveroak@...>
                              Subject: Re: [SCA-Herbalist] Re: apothecary chest
                              To: SCA-Herbalist@yahoogroups.com
                              Date: Wednesday, 2 April, 2008, 6:29 AM

                              

                               
                              Greetings,
                               
                              Can someone refresh my memory - was an "apothecary chest" found on the Mary Rose wreck?  I could easily be mis-remembering, or remembering a different type of chest.  Shoulda bought that book from Poison Press......* scribble on wish list*
                               
                              -Carowyn
                               
                               
                               
                            • Carowyn Silveroak
                              Greetings! Thanks for the reminder - that s the exact chest I was remembering, I knew it was special for some reason, just not the one in question.
                              Message 14 of 20 , Apr 4, 2008
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                                Greetings!
                                 
                                Thanks for the reminder - that's the exact chest I was remembering, I knew it was special for some reason, just not the one in question.  ("Apothecary chest" versus "chest used by an apothecary".)
                                 
                                I wonder if the dovetailed chest is for the same reason as the imported Flemish painters - that European artists were just better than English artists at the time?  Again, just a thought - I'm musing out loud.
                                 
                                -Carowyn
                                 
                                 

                                I've a copy of "Before The Mast" and my Lady is very interested in medieval medicine and surgery - and I don't recall seeing one mentioned in the text and wonderful drawings.

                                From what I recall, the Barber Surgeon only had a dovetailed chest - in which his equipment was found - and the book has very good illustrations and sectioned drawings of all the containers found therein.

                                The chest is interesting in and of itself, - though.

                                Because, IIRC, no English-provenanced dovetailed joints of that period have been recorded; and the Mary Rose Barber-Surgeon's chest is the earliest dovetail-jointed chest ever found in the UK.

                                "Before The Mast" suggests the chest must have been acquired in Europe - where the dovetail is known to have been in use at that date - but not apparently used by English woodworkers!

                                 

                                In humble service,

                                Julian


                                 
                                 
                              • Brett Chandler-Finch
                                http://ark.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08012334&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C the chest shown in the picture contains a series of drawers, though not the
                                Message 15 of 20 , Apr 5, 2008
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                                  http://ark.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08012334&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C

                                  the chest shown in the picture contains a series of drawers, though
                                  not the modern chest we are familiar with, a close approximation

                                  the problem with most chests is the size of the drawers. the drawers
                                  can only contain a small amount of herbs. not large enough for daily
                                  prescriptions of formulas. a individual would have had to refill the
                                  drawer almost every time he used it. It would ot have been practical
                                  enough to contain all the herbs used. having worked with a full size
                                  one in my school, they do not work well for bulk herbs. we use them
                                  for packets of granular herbs. They may have had a small chest of
                                  drawers used for items that were not commonly used and required only
                                  small dosages, but not everyday herbs that were commonly handled.
                                  This may be a reason the chests did not catch on until later when

                                  this is the closest I think you will find to actual usage

                                  http://classes.bnf.fr/ema/grands/034.htm
                                  An apothecary's pharmacy, Livre des propriétés des choses (BNF Fr.
                                  218, fol. 111), end of the 15th century


                                  http://ark.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08012334&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C
                                  Abû Zayd practices medicine, Maqâmât 47 (BNF Arabe 6094, fol. 174),
                                  1222-1223


                                  Though not showing drawers specifically (not sure if it's drawers or
                                  cabinet doors) this does show at least a cabinet.
                                • Brett Chandler-Finch
                                  http://www.larsdatter.com/apothecaries.htm apothecary site pictures are linked from
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Apr 5, 2008
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                                    http://www.larsdatter.com/apothecaries.htm
                                    apothecary site pictures are linked from
                                  • Dianna Haught
                                    But its my understanding (and don t ask me where this idea came from, because quite frankly, I can t remember at the moment but I think it was in relationship
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Apr 6, 2008
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                                      But its my understanding (and don't ask me where this idea came from, because quite frankly, I can't remember at the moment but I think it was in relationship to Chinese medicine) that chests with drawers weren't used for storing herbs, but for finished products: pills and powders and the like. For this usage I can see the drawers being very useful.
                                      Avacyn

                                      >the chest shown in the picture contains a series of drawers, though
                                      >not the modern chest we are familiar with, a close approximation
                                      >
                                      >the problem with most chests is the size of the drawers. the drawers
                                      >can only contain a small amount of herbs. not large enough for daily
                                      >prescriptions of formulas. a individual would have had to refill the
                                      >drawer almost every time he used it. It would ot have been practical
                                      >enough to contain all the herbs used. having worked with a full size
                                      >one in my school, they do not work well for bulk herbs. we use them
                                      >for packets of granular herbs. They may have had a small chest of
                                      >drawers used for items that were not commonly used and required only
                                      >small dosages, but not everyday herbs that were commonly handled.
                                      >This may be a reason the chests did not catch on until later when
                                      >
                                      >this is the closest I think you will find to actual usage
                                      >
                                      >http://classes.bnf.fr/ema/grands/034.htm
                                      >An apothecary's pharmacy, Livre des propriétés des choses (BNF Fr.
                                      >218, fol. 111), end of the 15th century
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >http://ark.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08012334&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C
                                      >Abû Zayd practices medicine, Maqâmât 47 (BNF Arabe 6094, fol. 174),
                                      >1222-1223
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >Though not showing drawers specifically (not sure if it's drawers or
                                      >cabinet doors) this does show at least a cabinet.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >------------------------------------
                                      >
                                      >-------------------------------------------------------------
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                                    • Brett Chandler-Finch
                                      Your right in that. It works very well for small pills. Most chinese formulations are made into tea pills that are about the size of a small pea. The
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Apr 7, 2008
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                                        Your right in that. It works very well for small pills. Most
                                        chinese formulations are made into tea pills that are about the size
                                        of a small pea. The drawers are great for that. I was just stating
                                        that the drawers are impractical for raw bulk herbs. or in the case
                                        of TCTCM we use them to store the packets of granular herbs.
                                        Granulars are herbs that have been processed according to traditional
                                        methods then freeze dried and stored in small foil packs They work
                                        wonderfully as the patient simply opens a set of packets which are
                                        mixed with hot water.and the shelf life of these packets are a couple
                                        of years.


                                        with the packets we could store about 100 dosages of a single herb in
                                        each drawer. The cabinet that was at the school had something like
                                        300 drawers. We also had raw herbs, but I found it difficult to find
                                        patients willing to cook the bag of herbs properly (about 30 minutes
                                        of prep time), so they weren't used as much.



                                        --- In SCA-Herbalist@yahoogroups.com, Dianna Haught <avacyn@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > But its my understanding (and don't ask me where this idea came
                                        from, because quite frankly, I can't remember at the moment but I
                                        think it was in relationship to Chinese medicine) that chests with
                                        drawers weren't used for storing herbs, but for finished products:
                                        pills and powders and the like. For this usage I can see the drawers
                                        being very useful.
                                        > Avacyn
                                      • Diana Smith
                                        Would you please provide a reference (or description) of the methods the Chinese used to make the tea pills? Also more information about making the granular
                                        Message 19 of 20 , Apr 9, 2008
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                                          Would you please provide a reference (or description) of the methods
                                          the Chinese used to make the tea pills? Also more information about
                                          making the granular herbs?
                                          Thanks,
                                          Diana
                                          --- In SCA-Herbalist@yahoogroups.com, "Brett Chandler-Finch"
                                          <goldweard@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          > Your right in that. It works very well for small pills. Most
                                          > chinese formulations are made into tea pills that are about the size
                                          > of a small pea. The drawers are great for that. I was just
                                          stating
                                          > that the drawers are impractical for raw bulk herbs. or in the case
                                          > of TCTCM we use them to store the packets of granular herbs.
                                          > Granulars are herbs that have been processed according to
                                          traditional
                                          > methods then freeze dried and stored in small foil packs They work
                                          > wonderfully as the patient simply opens a set of packets which are
                                          > mixed with hot water.and the shelf life of these packets are a
                                          couple
                                          > of years.
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > with the packets we could store about 100 dosages of a single herb
                                          in
                                          > each drawer. The cabinet that was at the school had something like
                                          > 300 drawers. We also had raw herbs, but I found it difficult to
                                          find
                                          > patients willing to cook the bag of herbs properly (about 30 minutes
                                          > of prep time), so they weren't used as much.
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > --- In SCA-Herbalist@yahoogroups.com, Dianna Haught <avacyn@> wrote:
                                          > >
                                          > > But its my understanding (and don't ask me where this idea came
                                          > from, because quite frankly, I can't remember at the moment but I
                                          > think it was in relationship to Chinese medicine) that chests with
                                          > drawers weren't used for storing herbs, but for finished products:
                                          > pills and powders and the like. For this usage I can see the
                                          drawers
                                          > being very useful.
                                          > > Avacyn
                                          >
                                        • Marian Walke
                                          ... This discussion has been fascinating. Today I was visiting Plimoth Plantation (recreation of the 1627 pilgrim village) and spent some time consulting with
                                          Message 20 of 20 , Apr 10, 2008
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                                            Brett Chandler-Finch wrote:

                                            > this is the closest I think you will find to actual usage
                                            >
                                            > http://classes.bnf.fr/ema/grands/034.htm
                                            > <http://classes.bnf.fr/ema/grands/034.htm>
                                            > An apothecary's pharmacy, Livre des propriétés des choses (BNF Fr.
                                            > 218, fol. 111), end of the 15th century
                                            >
                                            > http://ark.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08012334&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C
                                            > <http://ark.bnf.fr/ConsulterElementNum?O=IFN-08012334&E=JPEG&Deb=1&Fin=1&Param=C>
                                            > Abû Zayd practices medicine, Maqâmât 47 (BNF Arabe 6094, fol. 174),
                                            > 1222-1223
                                            >
                                            > Though not showing drawers specifically (not sure if it's drawers or
                                            > cabinet doors) this does show at least a cabinet.

                                            This discussion has been fascinating. Today I was visiting Plimoth
                                            Plantation (recreation of the 1627 pilgrim village) and spent some time
                                            consulting with their joiner, Peter, whose job is to create
                                            museum-quality replicas of late 16th to early 17th century furniture.
                                            He explained that Medieval English cabinets had doors, not drawers.
                                            Dressers were constructed to show off one's plate and other expensive
                                            possessions. They were made with open shelves above and just legs or
                                            cabinets with doors below. Some cabinets had doors above as well as
                                            below. But as for when DRAWERS actually became common, Peter says it
                                            all depends on where you were: Italian furniture had them earlier, then
                                            they spread (along with the Renaissance, it seems to me) over Europe and
                                            finally to England. However, they were never popular in England in
                                            period. What we think of as a "chest of drawers" actually caught on in
                                            the American colonies before it did in England, where they clung to
                                            their cabinets and top-lidded chests longer.

                                            I forgot to ask specifically about furniture imported from China, but
                                            the according to Wikipedia, Chinoiserie entered the European style
                                            repertory in the mid-to-late seventeenth century and its popularity
                                            peaked around the middle of the eighteenth century. So I suspect that
                                            little of this furniture (if any) was imported into Western Europe much
                                            before that.

                                            Anyway, I had a lovely day at Plimoth and was happy to learn more on
                                            this subject.

                                            --Old Marian
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