Oct 25, 2010

Friday Finds - Linen Press

This week's Friday find is a very functional antique furniture piece which was a staple in affluent home in the mid 1800s.
source: amazon

Oh no, I am not talking about an ironing board. :-). What I was to showcase is called a Linen Press. Probably a predecessor to our ironing boards and the steam iron :-)

Linen Press seem to have been a popular utility furniture item in the 19th century. I first saw this piece in a local furniture museum and researched more on the origins and the use of such well made piece of furniture. It looked more like a printer/binding press (I was almost right in guessing its purpose). It turned out that households in the 1800 and early 1900's used them keep their folded linen creases free. Amazing isnt it :-)

source: galenfrysinger(com) 

This is how it must have looked in a room set up

A little history...

"LINEN PRESS. Poland, Gdańsk, c. 1700. Table-linen presses are of particular importance as examples of Gdańsk richly decorated functional furniture. They are in the form of a table on which the main part – the press – is placed. It is regulated by a large screw, framed by spiral columns. The sculpted figures at the top are personifications of Faith and Hope." source:wawel.krakow.pl

This is a miniature on display courtesy krugercollection

Little more info...
LINEN-PRESS, a contrivance, usually of oak, for pressing sheets, table-napkins and other linen articles, resembling a modern office copying-press. Linen presses were made chiefly in the 17th and 18th centuries, and are now chiefly interesting as curiosities of antique furniture. Usually quite plain, they were occasionally carved with characteristic Jacobean designs. source: 1911encyclopedia

Another piece of furniture which a namesake: a simple Armoire or a cupboard. While reasearching about the linen press I came to know that a simple cupboard was also called a Linen Press.

Quoting wiki

Traditionally, a linen-press (or just press) is a cabinet, usually of woods such as oakwalnut, or mahogany, and designed for storing sheets, table-napkins, clothing, and other textiles. Such Linen-presses were made chiefly in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and are now considered decorative examples of antique furniture. Early versions were often quite plain, with some exhibiting carving characteristic of Jacobean designs. Examples made during the 18th and 19th centuries often featured expensive veneers and intricate inlays, and were designed to occupy prominent places in early bedrooms as storage closets for clothing.
In modern houses, a linen press is often a built-in cabinet near bedroom or bathroom, for easy access to fresh bed sheets and towels. Analogous terms are laundry cupboard or linen cupboard. In Ireland the term hot press describes an airing cupboard used for storing linen.

source: woodcraft (com)
I recommend this article on Linen Press in the Old and Interesting repository. There is a lot more for you to explore on this site...Do take a look. 

Probable use of a linen press found via an Illustration
note the perfect crease/folds on the table cloth: source: expositions.bnf.fr

Hope you found the find interesting!! :-)


  1. how intriguing! how does it work?---I guess i'll need to read the article now.. :)

  2. they lift the layers/flat press section by means of a screw and put in folded sheets to give them the fresh pressed look with perfect fold lines..:)..interesting right!!

  3. Oh wow! I had read the term linen press before, but I always thought of it as some kind of factory machinery! Gagan is right- very intriguing!

  4. Great post...heading off to read the article now!

  5. Wow... Beautiful carvings on an utility furniture. I could not take my eyes off the two artistic spiral carved pillars. But that screw seems to be heavy. Must have been a tiresome job to keep opening and closing the screw :)

  6. must have been...:)..but then it was times when they had slaves :(

  7. my my!! thats gorgeous.. What a lovely post!!

  8. Very interesting!! Incredible how pressing linen must be such a time consuming as well as artistic and skilled job!!


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