Casters ?

nyboyJune 27, 2012

Is there a reason casters are found on so much antique furniture? I rarely move my furniture, when I am happy where it is.Just wondering thanks

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It is easier to clean under and behind dressers and chests and sofas with casters. Very early furniture made before the Industrial Revolution, roughly 1830, didn't have casters.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 1:57PM
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You also have to remember that rugs, even in my childhood, were not wall-to-wall and it was a very common thing to yank them up and beat them clean. My father said that was one of his jobs as a child. Floors also got scrubbed, with a bucket and brushes. I still do it that way because I still have old plank floors upstairs. One just moved furniture about to clean.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Remember "broadloom carpet"?...before that carpet came in strips of about 30 inches and they were sewn together.....and it was just a piece...not laid wall to wall.
All the "new" furniture I remember as a child, was without casters. My grandmother gave us her round oak table. It was huge 60 inches. My mother hated it, she painted it shiny black and took the casters off....and people hit their knees on the my father put the casters back.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 3:20PM
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Thanks guys being a single male, if I can't see it its clean.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 11:42AM
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In many novels written in the 1800s, people do things like "wheel a chair up to the fire." Which would indicate two things.

One, at least some of the furniture was on casters. And two, furniture wasn't as static in the room as it tends to be today. I think, based on a tiny bit of research I've done, that chairs and some tables were made to be moved around on almost a daily basis, to suit the needs of the people who owned it.

So a chair could be moved closer to the fire when someone came in from the cold. In the summer, it could easily be moved to the window to catch a breeze. Tables could be moved around, in one place for dinner, then moved aside as a worktable later in the day.

Old housekeeping books also describe putting the furniture to rights as part of the duties of a house maid, which would again indicate that while each piece of furniture probably had a specific place in the room, people were free to move chairs and small tables around, to form conversation groups or be closer to a light source for reading or needlework.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 2:26PM
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I'm really not sure that is the reason why my 1870's huge marble topped dresser and matching commode have casters on them. No one was going to be moving them around for convenience.
And I am quite sure that the large Duncan Phyfe style dining table was not moved around in the room when it was new.

Having visited many historical homes, I can say that I didn't notice many pieces of furniture that didn't seem to have a fairly solid place in the room. The exceptions are very small rude houses such as Herbert Hoover's Birthplace in Iowa and Grover Cleveland's Birthplace in New Jersey where beds were pulled out from under another bed for the children.
But as I recall, no other pieces were on casters.
Casters are a Victorian thing....they came with the era and seemed to leave when it was over.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 7:07PM
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If you take the casters off (or they are already gone) the intended proportions and stance of the piece is usually changed for the worse.
I hated an old victorian bombe dresser until I replaced the casters; lifting it the extra inch-plus really restored it's lines.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 9:58PM
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My grandmother always had "casters" under legs of heavy furniture... BUT she was referring to glass disks with an indentation to contain end of leg?? Think they were the prehistoric "as seen on TV" item. They allowed you to slide heavy items... sorta... to move or clean behind.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 5:35PM
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No....those glass cups under things like chairs and sofas were to prevent the casters from rolling when people sat on them and later when furniture didn't have casters, they were to prevent the legs from making dents in the rug.
I have some under an Empire sofa on a tile floor to prevent it from hitting the wall every time someone sits down on it. It has casters.....those cup things weren't casters, in spite of what your grandmother called them....they were actually "anti casters"...LOL! To keep things from moving easily and to protect your floor. They were called caster cups.
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 5:45PM
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