5 Types of Portable, Decorative Antiques You Cannot Name

Small Furniture Pieces Ranging from Magazine Racks to Stools

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Pair of Tabouret by L&GJ Stickley, c. 1912. - Prices4Antiques.com

One of the fun aspects of learning about antiques and collectibles is when you have one of those great aha moments and say to yourself, “Hey, I have one of those!” This can go hand in hand with learning a new term for familiar object.

Take a look at four different small furniture pieces that are not only portable and functional, but also very decorative, to learn what these objects are really called.

  • 01 of 05

    Canterbury – A Type of Music or Magazine Rack

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    Regency Mahogany Canterbury. - Prices4Antiques.com

    A canterbury is a piece of portable, occasional furniture consisting of an open-topped rack with slatted compartments for storing sheet music, music books, magazines, or newspapers. Many times they will offer extra storage space afforded by a drawer underneath. The top rests on four legs, which are typically on casters to assist with rolling it from place to place rather than carrying it.

    These were developed in the 1780s in England (reputedly deriving the name from the Archbishop of Canterbury,...MORE who commissioned one), and they grew increasingly ornate throughout the 19th century. Regency examples of the canterbury had a simple “boat shape” with U-shaped tops to the dividing slats (as shown here). Victorian pieces often have an upper galleried shelf, and panels shaped like lyres or treble clefs denoting the use for music storage. 

  • 02 of 05

    Cellarette – A Portable Wine or Liquor Cabinet

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    George III Mahogany Hexagon Shaped Cellarette. James D. Julia Inc./Prices4Antiques.com

    A cellarette (spelled cellaret in Britain) is a hinged, portable container used to store wine or liquor bottles, thus the nod to the wine cellar in the name. They are traditionally made of wood with an interior lined with metal or lead. Some examples are compartmentalized, and they are frequently equipped with a lock. They were developed around 1700, but flourished in the late 1700s and well into the 1800s. Cellarettes were often on display in dining rooms of the day, and could be ornately...MORE decorated or carved. They came in a variety of shapes, progressively growing taller (along with wine bottles) in the 18th century.

    The earliest varieties resembled chests or barrels, and stood on tall legs equipped with castors to assist with portability from room to room as needed. Later, with the rise of Neo-Classical styles around the turn of the 18th century, sarcophagus shapes - often resting on elaborate paw feet - became more common. The term can also refer to a metal-lined compartment or deep tray for bottles within a sideboard, liquor cabinet or mini-bar.

  • 03 of 05

    Cheval Mirror - A Mirror That Swivels

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    Chaval Mirror in Classical Empire Style, Mahogany, Ormolu Trim, Eagle Finials, c. 1825. - Prices4Antiques.com

    The cheval (pronounced “shuh-vahl”) mirror is a freestanding, full-length mirror mounted between two upright posts, which rest traditionally on trestle feet and a supportive frame known as a horse (the French word "cheval" actually translates to "horse").  The mirror is attached with screws, which allow it to tilt and the feet are often on casters for portability. This mirror style was developed in the late 1700s, and is characteristic of Neo-Classical and Empire styles.

    Cheval...MORE mirrors may have been named by Thomas Sheraton, who described how they may "be turned back or forward to suit the person who dresses at them," in The Cabinet Dictionary (1803). This mirror style is sometimes also referenced as a cheval glass (English), Psyche (French), or a screen dressing glass. Over time, the term cheval has come to describe any standing mirror or even smaller mirrors suspended from a frame on a piece of furniture like a chifforobe. Some examples are attached to small bases with drawers that allow a plain table or chest of drawers to become a dressing area. 

  • 04 of 05

    Taboret - A Stool or Side Table

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    Pair of Tabouret by L&GJ Stickley, c. 1912. - Prices4Antiques.com

    The taboret (sometimes spelled taboret) was originally, a low, upholstered footstool that stood on four legs and was round on the top, like a drum (tabour in French). The shape later became rectangular, often sitting on a curule-like base, and is highly typical of Régence and Rococo styles. They were developed in 17th-century France. In fact, in the court of Louis XIV, strict etiquette determined which courtiers could use a tabouret. These portable furniture pieces experienced a renaissance in a...MORE plainer, non-upholstered form in the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th century. The term expanded to mean a stool, short side table or even cabinet of any shape.

    Special thanks to Troy Segal, former contributing writer for About.com, for her assistance with this article. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Teapoy - A Table Used for Storage

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    English teapoy with porcelain panels. - Prices4Antiques.com

    This is a type of small pedestal table equipped with a box attached to a tripod base. Usually the box was a tea caddy, used for storing loose tea; if it was flat-topped, the teapoy could also serve as a small tea table. Despite the teapoy's function, however, the name actually derives not from the word "tea" but from a Hindi/Persian phrase meaning "three-footed." Teapoys developed in mid-18th-century England, and many were actually made in British colonial India.

    Teapoys...MORE continued to be popular into the mid-19th century, growing increasingly ornate. Over time, the term also came to mean any stand with box attached - even if it stood on four legs.