Colonial Craftsmen

Dutch Town Homes,
page 7 of 8

The linen consisted of fifty-one linen sheets, eleven damask table-cloths, one linen table-cloth, twenty-one homespun cloths, four breakfast cloths, twelve damask napkins, fifty-six homespun napkins, fifteen towels, twenty-nine pillow-cases.

This linen was usually kept in a great linen chest often brought from Holland. Made of panelled oak or of cedar, these chests were not only useful, but ornamental. They were substantial enough to have lasted till our own day, unless wantonly destroyed as clumsy and cumbersome, and a few have survived.

There was one display of wealth which was not wholly for the purpose of exhibiting the luxury and refinement of the housekeeper, but also served as a safe investment of surplus funds, household silver. From early days silver tankards, spoons, dram-cups, and porringers appear in inventories. Salt-cellars and beakers are somewhat rare; but as years crept on, candlesticks, salvers, coffeepots, teakettles, snuffers, bread-baskets, and punch-bowls are on the list. When Captain Kidd, the pirate, was a happy bridegroom in 1692, as a citizen of respectability and social standing, he started housekeeping with three hundred dollars’worth of silver. Magistrate Marius had at the same time a silver tankard, three salt-cellars, two beakers, a mustard pot and spoon, twenty-seven sweetmeat spoons, four tumblers, nine cups each with two ears, a salver, a mug and cover, a baby’s chafing-dish, a fork and cup. Governor Rip van Dam had in silver three tankards, a chafing-dish, three castors, two candlesticks, snuffers and tray, two salvers, a mug, salt-cellar and pepper-pot, and a large number of spoons. Abraham de Peyster had a splendid array: four tankards, two decanters, two dishes, three plates, eleven salvers, two cups and covers, two chafing-dishes, six porringers, four sauce-boats, two punch-bowls, three mugs, four sugar-dishes, a coffee-pot and tea-pot, seven salts and shovels, a saucepan, four pairs snuffers and stand, a mustard-pot, a bread-basket, a dram-bottle, tobacco-dish, nine castors, six candlesticks, one waiter, twenty-three forks, three soup-spoons, two punch ladles, ten table-spoons, ten teaspoons, two sugar-tongs; truly a display fit for a fine English hall. We may note in this, as in many other inventories, that the number of small pieces seems very small and inadequate; ten teaspoons and twenty-three forks appear vastly disproportioned to the great pieces of plate.


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