Bottle Case on Stand or Cellaret
Cherry with poplar secondary
Henry County, Virginia
Unknown maker – descended in the Hairston Family, Hordsville
H: 37”; W: 28” D: 18.5”
The bottle case on stand as it was known in the period, now commonly termed a cellaret, was a form that appears to have been originally restricted in usage to coastal Maryland, Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Cellarets are among the most iconic southern forms and are rare survivors, no doubt due to the weight of their liquid contents, damage from spillage and frequent use. The design of this fine cherry bottle case, with a family history in the Hairston Family of Henry County, Virginia, is closely related to cases made by Joseph Freeman in Gates County, North Carolina. It was inspected by Frank Horton and recorded in the MESDA 1977 field survey as S-7541 with the tag remaining on the drawer’s inner side.
A Freeman cellaret recorded by MESDA (MRF-14326) of similar proportions, design and form, and is fitted with a removeable tray for decanters and glassware in the center section. The tray is now missing from our example and was likely lost when the partitions and bottom boards were replaced during an early restoration. The drawer partitions mirror the layout of the upper section and are original. (A cellaret by Freeman now in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg is very similar to our example and also lacks the center insert.)
Among the striking features of this cellaret are the reeded decorative panels at the tops of the front legs and similar reeding on the cuffs. These panels were certainly intended to produce a similar effect to rectangular patterned light and dark wood line inlay found on urban pieces in Virginia during the period.
According to Hairston Family history, the cellaret was a wedding gift to George Hairston II and Louisa Hardyman when they married in 1811. The wedding took place at the home of Governor John Tyler know as Sherwood Forest in Charles City. The Hairston Family enjoyed substantial wealth and owned large tracts of land on which they raised tobacco. By the beginning of the Civil War, George Hairston and his family are said to have owned the majority of land in Henry County and large plantations in four states.
This cellarette descended in the Hairston family of Henry County, VA. According to family tradition the stand was presented to George Hairston and his wife, Louisa Hardyman as a wedding gift in 1811.