Cellaret – Bottle Case on Stand
Yellow pine and hard wood inlays
Southside Virginia, Probably Greensville County
MESDA Research file label S-17631
38.5” H, 20” W, 15” D
Much more commonly found in the southern colonies or states than north of the Mason Dixon, the bottle case on stand, known variously as a cellaret, gin or brandy case, evolved from the British “temporary cellar”; a specialized furniture form generally intended for use in a dining room. When depleted, the case with bottles could be carried to the cellar where wines and liquors were stored in barrels for refill and return to the dining area. (Southern Furniture Cat. 160). Their use in entertaining in more formal “public” areas of southern homes required that cellarets be finely crafted and decorated with inlays, veneers and fine woods.
In a fine state of preservation, this Southside Virginia cellaret belongs to a small group of furniture that can be attributed to a shop based on nearly identical inlay patterns, form and construction. Also from this group is a very similar cellaret first recorded and pictured in Paul Burroughs’ Southern Antiques, plate VI, which he attributed to Norfolk based largely on the inlay technique. MESDA field researchers subsequently identified other pieces from this group with histories in or near Greensville County, Virginia classified as the “Greenville (sic) County Diamond Inlay Group.” This cellaret, S-17631, S-2471, S-5822 and (reportedly) an unlocated sideboard, along with the Burroughs cellaret and two tables in private collections.
The cellaret’s condition is excellent with a rich, mellow surface. A small section of the original dividers have been removed, probably to accommodate a larger than normal bottle. Hinges are replacements. An interesting construction feature is the small vertical tenon on the back rail of the base that inserts into the bottom of the case holding it in place.