Drunken Rascals Beware
Sideboards were a popular furniture form found in many eighteenth and nineteenth century dining rooms. This small neoclassical example was constructed by enslaved hands in the shop of prolific Charleston cabinetmaker Robert Walker (1772-1833). Executed in mahogany, satinwood, tulip poplar, and pine, the piece features six drawers arranged in two rows. These include two lower fitted cellarette drawers on the bottom row for holding bottles, and a fitted drawer for holding silverware in the center of the top.
This is an exceptionally rare example of Charleston furniture that was signed and dated. A pencil inscription on the bottom of the right cellarette drawer reads:
“Robt Walker/1828/Those that Steels This/Is Drunken Rascale.”
Sideboards such as this one provided secure storage for the accoutrements required for dining, a surface from which to serve meals, and acted as a display space for other objects. The locking cellarette drawers would have protected their contents from any passing “drunken rascale [sic].”
Chad Stewart, Curator of History