Monday, 1 February 2016
All three photographs here are of the same item. It is an English version of a so called 'Nuremberg kitchen'. For those of you with good memories, yes, you have seen it before. I used it as a blog entry a few years ago (say three or four). I think it was probably 'estate made' i.e. by the estate carpenter of a village manor house, for the squire's daughter, NOT as a toy, but as a reference work, and instructional tool to acquaint a young girl with her coming housewifely duties. I bought it (the cabinet, I should say) some years prior to that on the Lincolnshire showground at Newark (at that time a massive antique fair). The cabinet was empty, save for the tinned iron cooking range in the chimney piece, and a built in cupboard or so. Since then we've redecorated the kitchen, I've done a good many necessary repairs, and we've kept an eye out for well made miniature household items to furnish it. When we considered it complete, we were coming up to Ann's seventieth birthday (so it was six years ago) and I'd not found a birthday present for her, so asked her what she wanted. At the time I was considering an offer I'd had for the above item, and it turned out that what Ann wanted was NOT to sell the kitchen with the maids' bedroom above it, but to keep it: so I gave it to her as a birthday present. Before that time, I'd been treating it as potential stock; so then we carried on furnishing it.
Now, if you look at the top photo, there are two rooms; the lower one a complete kitchen, and the upper one a well fitted out bed chamber.
This is much the same photograph but with the doors open. Everything on the kitchen range is working, even the tap on the left of the fire bars in the range can be turned so that water trickles out of the tank to the left of the range, and every one of the copper kettles and saucepans are tinned inside so that if used the young mistress would not suffer from copper-poisoning (in other words, if the young lady desired a dolls' tea party, it would be quite feasible, in theory).
Almost all of the metal items are of copper, brass, iron, or pewter. Most of them are of early nineteenth century date, although some of the pewter is rather earlier. Easily the earliest item is shown to the extreme right of the second photo on the upper floor. It is a guilt brass miniature casket, and dates from a few years either side of the year 1600. I purchased it at the Long Melford Antique Fair about three or four years ago.
The photo above shows a close up of the right hand side of the kitchen (the lower floor). A pretty good idea of scale can be got from this picture. The two candlesticks on the table top are both just under two inches high, and the clay pipe on the table top is just over an inch long. It could, of course, be smoked. In front of it is a brass candle snuffer dating from about the year 1790, and less than an inch long. As I've never been able to find a snuffer tray small enough for the snuffers, I eventually made one to complete the birthday present; Ann didn't seem to mind. It's the only piece of metal ware in the 'English Nuremberg kitchen' that I made. All the rest is original.
Good Night All.