Italians Invented Cabinets For Storage,
The piece of furniture known today as the cabinet originated in Italy in the 16th century. By the 17th century, its use had been adopted in England and elsewhere in Europe.
Cabinets were designed for both specialized storage and for display. Wealthy Englishmen imported them from Italy to display their collections of such things as fossils, shells and coins. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the most elaborate and important piece of furniture made.
By the 18th century, British craftsmen began to design and build cabinets themselves. Some of the styles originated at that time, such as the glass-fronted Sheraton, continue to be copied today.
Glass-fronted cabinets in a variety of designs were considered to be standard living room equipment until as late as the 1950s. They were used to display whatever cherished possessions the family had, whether they were grand or humble. Their use had changed little over a period of about 300 years.
Cabinets were also made for other uses, however. Kitchen cabinets of pine were more apt to have tin-inset doors or even open shelves. A specialty of the 1930s was the cocktail cabinet, which opened to reveal an array of glasses, shakers, ice tongs and the other paraphernalia necessary for mixing a drink. Some were even lined with mirrors and played a tune when the doors were opened.
Most cabinets from earlier years will be quickly purchased by collectors today, who still want to have a safe place to display their treasures.
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