Pull-out slides are common features of case furniture during this period, particularly pairs of candle slides in bureau cabinets where light from the candles is reflected off the door mirrors back into the room and over the writing surface of the bureau.
The corner cabinet I am basing this ‘mulberry’ piece on had a single, wide pull-out slide below the upper doors. While uncommon, it was obviously deemed useful enough to install it in the first place. One explanation for its existence could lie in the immensely popular pastime of taking tea.
In 1723 Robert Walpole reduced the duties on tea, making it more accessible, but tea drinking was still very costly – from the fashionable imported Chinese porcelain to the tea itself. The tea and tea equipage were kept, not in the kitchen, but in the parlour or drawing room, under the watchful eye of the lady of the house. Many will be familiar with the small, lockable wooden tea caddies dating from the first half of the eighteenth-century, but most early tea caddies were simple lidded containers made from porcelain, earthenware or silver. Between each tea ritual, the tea wares and tea caddy would have been locked in a cabinet, out of reach of the servants (the tea wares would even have been washed in the room (in a commensurate bowl), by the owner, and placed directly back in the cabinet).
It is therefore conceivable that the pull-out slide in the front of such a cabinet might have been for placing the tea pot on while scooping tea from the caddy, or for supporting the basin in which to rinse the porcelain.
While I had the upper cabinet up on the table to hang the doors, I took the opportunity to temporarily fit the pull-out slide in the bottom of the cabinet. The slide is made from 1/2″ thick pine with an ash cleat across its front edge which in turn, has a cross-grain ‘D’ moulding applied to it. The slide is located in a slot cut in the lower front face of the cabinet, mid way between the surbase moulding (on the top of the lower cabinet), and the door opening of the upper cabinet. The two guides for the pull-out slide were screwed to the under side of the bottom end board.
A pair of brass knobs will be screwed into the front of the slide after the cabinet is finally polished and waxed and a stop will be screwed to its under side to prevent it from being withdrawn too far.