Miniature or Apprentice Piece?
It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. Very often miniature pieces were traveling salesman’s samples. Back in the day there were no photographs or internet for people to see what a piece of furniture might actually look like. So a miniature piece would be made to scale by the workshops cabinet maker. In this way the salesman wouldn’t have to deal with large and heavy pieces of furniture to carry all over the countryside. These pieces were well crafted out of woods such as mahogany, rosewood, walnut or pine. They also might have knobs and escutcheons of brass, wood, ivory or bone. There would also be some form of inlay to show off on the piece.
If the miniature was an apprentice piece it would be extremely well made. In order for a craftsman to join a guild, where very high standards would have to be met, he would have to produce a “masterpiece.” This was usually a chest of drawers or table in miniature. It would be presented to the master craftsman. If the master approved, the apprentice would be invited to join the guild. Be mindful that the craftsman would have to apprentice to a master craftsman for anywhere from eight to eleven years in order to learn his craft and hone his skills before being admitted to the guild.
These pieces are now highly collectible and sought after. Here at Susan Silver Antiques, we have several miniatures pieces in stock.