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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

English livery cupboard approximately 1600 to 1640
Decorative crockery and bibelots in vitré armoire or vitrina
Cupboard with bed sheets and towels well dressed

A cupboard (pronounced /ˈkʌbərd/) or press (Hiberno-English) is a type of cabinet, often made of wood, used indoors to store household objects such as food, crockery, textiles and liquor, and protect them from dust and dirt.

As the name suggests, this piece of furniture was originally a simple board or table on which to place cups or mugs--recorded use of such a name dates back to at least the Middle Ages. For the last few centuries, "cupboard" has referred to a storage area enclosed by doors.

The term cupboard was originally used to describe an open-shelved side table for displaying plates, cups and saucers. These open cupboards typically had between one and three display tiers, and at the time, a drawer or multiple drawers fitted to them. The word cupboard gradually came to mean a closed piece of furniture.[1]


Types of cupboards


Airing cupboard

An airing cupboard is a large built-in wardrobe, sometimes of walk-in dimensions, containing a water heater; either an immersion heater for hot running water or a boiler for central heating water. Shelves, usually slatted to allow for circulation of heat, are positioned above or around the heater to provide storage for clothing, typically linen and towelling. The purpose is to prevent damp and to dry wet clothing. Other names include "boiler cupboard", or (in Ireland) "hot press".

China cabinet

The very first china cabinet was created during the King William and Queen Mary era (1689-1702) in England. William and Mary came from Holland, and brought with them lots of Dutch craftsmen. Queen Mary was obsessed with the Blue and White china that was being imported in Europe, so she commissioned the craftsmen to create a special cabinet that would display some of her personal collection. The cabinet itself was made of walnut, so it had to be moved with a stretcher because the large piece was too heavy for the small legs that were under it. It had a glass door, which were glass panes, which at this time were created by blowing glass into compartments and then spreading it into sheets. The original china cabinet had an oriental influence to go with the style of the Blue and White china.

Linen cupboard

A linen cupboard is an enclosed recess of a room used for storing household linen, usually with shelves; or a free-standing piece of furniture for this purpose. [2] See also article linen-press.

See also


  1. ^ Andrews, John (2006) British Antique Furniture. Antique Collectors' Club ISBN 1-85149-444-8; p. 226
  2. ^ Bravery, Suzanne (10 May 2008), "The Linen Cupboad" (PDF), Mother's Day Address at Eryldene, Gordon, NSW: Eryldene Trust,, retrieved 2009-03-30 

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CUPBOARD, a fixed or movable closet usually with shelves. As the name suggests, it is a descendant of the credence or buffet, the characteristic of which was a series of open shelves for the reception of drinking vessels and table requisites. After the word lost its original meaning - and down to the end of the 16th century we still find the expression "on the cupboard"- this piece of furniture was, as it to some extent remains, movable, but it is now most frequently a fixture designed to fill a corner or recess. Throughout the 18th century the cupboard was a distinguished domestic institution, and the housewife found her chief joy in accumulating cupboards full of china, glass and preserves. With the exception of a very few examples of fine ecclesiastical cupboards which partook chiefly of the nature of the armoire in that they were intended for the storage of vestments, the so-called court-cupboard is perhaps the oldest form of the contrivance. The derivation of the expression is somewhat obscure, but it is generally taken to refer to the French word court, short. This particular type was much used from the Elizabethan to the end of the Carolinian period. It was really a sideboard with small square doors below, and a recessed superstructure supported upon balusters. Of these many examples remain. Less frequent is the livery cupboard, the meaning of which may be best explained by the following quotation from Spenser's Account of the State of Ireland: " What livery is we by common use in England know well enough, namely, that it is an allowance of horse-meat, as they commonly use the word stabling, as to keep horses at livery;: the which word I guess is derived of livering or delivering forth their nightly food; so in great houses the livery is said to be served up for all night - that is, their evening allowance for drink." The livery cupboard appears usually to have been placed in bedrooms, so that a supply of food and drink was. readily available when a very long interval separated the last meal of the evening from the first in the morning. The livery cupboard was often small enough to stand upon a sideboard or cabinet, and had an open front with a series of turned balusters. It was often used in churches to contain the loaves of bread doled out to poor persons under the terms of ancient charities. They were then called dole cupboards; there are two large and. excellent examples in St Alban's Abbey. The butter, or bread and cheese cupboard, was a more ordinary form, with the back and sides bored with holes, sometimes in a geometrical pattern, for the admission of air to the food within. The corner cupboard, which is in many ways the most pleasing and artistic form of this piece of furniture, originated in the 18th century, which as we have seen was the golden age of the cupboard. It was often of oak, but more frequently of mahogany, and had either a solid or a glass front. The older solid-fronted pieces are fixed to the wall half-way up, but those of the somewhat more modern type, in which there is much glass, usually have a wooden base with glazed superstructure. Most corner cupboards are attractive in form and treatment, and many of them, inlaid with satinwood, ebony, holly or box, are extremely elegant.

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Simple English

A cupboard, also known as a cabinet, is a piece of furniture used for storage. They are generally in the kitchen or bathroom of a house. They usually have a door and one or more shelves.

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