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less on luxuries, and from necessity they used what they already possessed until it was broken or worn out; then, if it were not entirely useless, they repaired and patched it and went on as before. Economy and convenience made them use materials that were close at hand; and in many New England towns a familiar figure was the wood turner, who made plates and other utensils out of “dishtimber" as it was called, a white wood which was probably poplar or linden, but not basswood. Yet economical as these people were, even the unpretentious households possessed an abundance of mugs and tankards, which suggest their one indulgence and their enjoyment of strong drink. · As conditions of life improved and wealth increased, the number of those who were able to indulge in luxuries also increased. The period after 1730 was one of great prosperity in the colonies owing to the enlarged opportunities for making money which trade, commerce, and markets furnished. Though it was also a time of higher prices, rapid advance in the cost of living, and general complaint of the inadequacy of existing fees and salaries, those who were engaged in trade and had access to markets were able to indulge in luxuries which were unknown to the earlier settlers and
which remained unknown to those living in the rural districts and on the frontier.
In the Northern cities and on Southern plantations costly and beautiful household furnishings appeared: furniture was carved and upholstered in leather and rich fabrics; tables were adorned with silver, china, and glassware, and walls were hung with expensive papers and decorated with paintings and engravings — all brought from abroad. A house thus equipped was not unlikely to contain a mahogany dining table capable of seating from fourteen to twenty persons, and an equal number of best Russia leather chairs, two of which would be arm or “elbow” chairs, double nailed, with broad seats and leather backs. Washington, for example, in 1757 bought “two neat mahogany tables 472 feet square when spread and to join occasionally,” and “1 doza neat and strong mahogany chairs," some with “Gothick arched backs," and one “an easy chair on casters.” About the rooms were pieces of mahogany furniture of various styles, tea tables, card tables, candle stands, settees, and "sophas.” On the walls, which were frequently papered, painted in color, or stenciled in patterns, hung family portraits painted by artists whose names are in many cases unknown to us, and
framed pictures of hunting scenes, still life, ships, and humorous subjects, among which the engravings of Hogarth were always prime favorites. On the chimney breast, above the mantel, there was sometimes a scene or landscape, either painted directly on the wall itself or executed to order on canvas in England and brought to America. There were eight-day clocks and mantel clocks, and sconces, carved and gilt, upstairs and down. In the cupboard and on the sideboard would be silver plate in great variety and sets of best English china, ivory-handled knives and forks, glass in considerable profusion, though glassware, as a rule, was not much used, diaper tablecloths and napkins, brass chafing dishes, and steel plate warmers. There was always a centerpiece or épergne of silver, glass, or china.
In the bedrooms were pier glasses and bedsteads in many forms and colors, of mahogany and other woods. Frequently there were four-posters, with carved and fluted pillars and carved cornices or “cornishes,” as they were generally spelled. The bedsteads were provided with hair mattresses and feather beds, woolen blankets, and linen sheets, and were adorned with silk, damask, or chintz curtains and valances. Russian gauze or lawn was used for mosquito nets, for mosquitoes were a great pest to the colonists.
On the large plantations there was to be found a great variety of utensils for kitchen, artisan, and farm use, most of which were brought from England, but some, particularly iron pots, axes, and scythes, from New England. For the kitchen there were hard metal plates, copper kettles and pans, pewter dishes in large numbers, chiefly for servants' use, yellow metal spoons, stone bottles, crocks, jugs, mugs, butter pots, and heavy utensils in iron for cooking purposes. For the farm there were grindstones, saws, files, knives, axes, adzes, planes, augurs, irons, hayrakes, carts, forks, reaping hooks, wheat sieves, spades, shovels, watering pots, plows, plowshares, and moldboards, harness and traces, harrows, ox chains, and scythes. · The farmer was thus provided with all the im
plements necessary for mowing, clearing underbrush, and cradling wheat, and all the other essential activities of an agricultural life. A wheel plow is mentioned as early as 1732, and in 1748 James Crokatt, an influential Charlestonian in England, sent over a plow designed to weed, trench, sow, and cover indigo, but of its construction we unfortunately know nothing. The colonists