This rather large and decorative canterbury was produced in England in the mid 19th century. A canterbury is a partitioned open topped storage piece designed to hold sheet music. The canterbury was first introduced in circa 1780 for a commission by the Archbishop of Canterbury, hence the name.
The canterbury typically sits low so that it may be accessed from a seated position (such as a piano player would while sitting on a bench). It would sometimes have drawers underneath, but they almost always would have short legs on caster wheels. It was not until later in the 1800’s that the canterbury became taller and would sometimes be produced with brass or metal ornamentation, such as the one you see here. By the mid-1800s, the canterbury would become a status symbol in wealthier American homes.
This piece has wonderful carvings and ornamentation: Notice how the quatrefoil fretwork on each side is flanked by thick, turned columns adorned with bas relief grapevines and pomegranate branches. On the joints above the columns (on the front side only) are a set of inlaid brass decorations (some missing). Flowing from these joints and running towards the center, are two bas relief panels, with more carvings of grapevines, surrounded by raised scoop molding in the shape of an arching rectangle. In the middle, is another brass inlay of symmetrical arabesque flowers. At one point in time, the middle of the inlay probably held a name plate.
On every side is a ball finial that rests on top of the corners. Facing towards the front is an impressively detailed carved crown consisting of three curled leaves flanked by double rosette acanthus leaves. Enveloping the rosettes are a series of spirals that form oak leaf branches that terminate in rinceaux. The crest is positioned along the center partition, which creates the storage spaces for music sheets. All of this rests upon four bun feet.
Today this decorative occasional piece can still be used to hold sheet music, or it can be used to store such items as magazines, newspapers and books. Place this in the corner of a living room, library or even a game room.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with some slight old water marks to the base of one side. Part of one of the brass inlays missing. Split/separation to back panel of canterbury fretwork. Minor wear commensurate with age and use.