A Duchesse brisee is a French piece of furniture, a daybed split into three parts and the name literally means “Broken Duchess”. This concept is originally from Egypt. During the 1st Dynasty, examples of these type of loungers were found in tombs. Not to be outdone though the Greeks invented the lounging couch as a substitute for a chair when dining and even Later still Romans used a similar daybed for both sleeping at night and resting during the day. Around 1740 was when the French invented the Duchesse Brisee.
It was designed in three parts, two “gondola type” chairs with a “labouret” between them, it was detachable and could be used as two seats and a foot stool.
An Andiron is the horizontal bar in which logs are laid on for burning in open fires. Usually used in pairs to build up a fire dog. In older eras (16th to 18th Century) andirons were also used as a rest for a roasting spit or were cup shaped to hold the porridge.
Andirons hold the the firewood up so that air can pass around, allowing the logs to burn properly and minimising the smoke. Typically supported on short legs and with an upright guard. This guard keeps the logs from rolling our of the fireplace. The guards may be made of iron, copper, steel bronze or even silver and can be elaborately decorated, some in the form of a dog which plays on the dual meaning of fire-dogs.
Fire dogs with no or little decoration were made of metal or ceramic and we also used in kitchens with ratcheted uprights for the spits. Very often these uprights branched out into arms or hobs for stewing or keeping food hot.
A National cash register in a family-run jewellery store is still giving perfect service a century after it was made
The family has been running its jewellery business in Muncie, Indiana, since 1895. Five generations later, the glass-fronted antique cabinets and Victorian oak partners desks have been replaced by more modern retail furnishings. One important feature remains the same – the store’s ornate 100 year old cash register, which was installed in the 1920s and is still used every day.
The gleaming brass machine, with the company name displayed in ornate lettering, was made in 1912 by the National Cash Register Company of Dayton, Ohio – inventors of the first ever cash till. Totally at home in its diamond-studded environment, the machine is manually operated through punch keys and a hand-cranked side lever which, when pulled, produces the familiar “ker-ching” sound which opens the drawer. The compartments are notably larger than those of modern tills, reflecting the size of Edwardian bank notes. Another interesting point is that the maximum which can be rung up in any one transaction is $89.99 – which was worth considerably more back in 1912. The family gets around this by making a note of the difference and popping it in the drawer.
An antique till was used to humorous effect in the comedy series “Open All Hours”, but these days a museum is the most likely place to find one. However, antique dealers in Lancashire sometimes have them – just look among the antique desks and Victorian dining chairs .