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Furniture of the Goethe House

in Frankfurt Germany,

May 22-30, 2011


Noted author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in 1749 to well-to-do parents. His mother was the daughter of the Mayor. His father was a noted lawyer, but independently wealthy enough so that he could spend his time collecting books and studying, rather than working. When they married, his father moved into his wife's home, and they lived there for the rest of the century.

The furniture

The magnificent collection of furniture deserves more than this brief set of snapshots with available lighting, but you take what you have. The sequence is the way I encountered the furniture during my visit

This is one of several linen storage cabinets in the hallways of the house, and one of the first pieces you encounter. Wow. Reportedly they had so many linens that they only had to do laundry once or twice per year.


From the context, this cabinet was near the kitchen, so perhaps was a china cabinet.

Note the curved drawer fronts, as well as the veneer on the side of the chest


Remember that all these veneers were hand cut, and there were no vacuum bags.


Note the inlays on the top, and the carvings on the legs.

Stone top, fancy metal trim and hardware, and marquetry on the sides.


Normally chairs don't catch my attention, but for some reason this one did.

Another Linen press (storage cabinet)


And yet another linen press. Note the columns on this one.

Who says that the strings of a grand piano have to be horizontal? Or maybe this was a harpsichord...


This desk or cabinet didn't make sense until I confirmed that it is a harpsichord.

Note the curved sides to this clock. Amazing.


Another chest with stone top and metal trim, but this has a bit of the bombe shape - bulging sides and front. In fact, look closely and you will see compound curves on the front.

Still another chest with multiple simple curves on the front, and interesting veneer patterns


One of several game tables. I believe the top, shown vertically here, would lay with the playing surface either up or down. Storage space for dice, cards, and pieces are in the compartment under the tabletop, and in additional drawers on the front.

Note the veneer on the top of the table, including the corners of each of the four square patterns


I love the walnut crotch on the sides of this desk

It is not clear to me whether this is a three drawer chest or 9 drawer. I am leaning towards three drawers.


With the heavy metal hinges on the outside of the upper cabinet, I bet this is something other than just another storage unit.

Hopefully the fold-down writing surface will extend far enough forward to provide leg room, since there is no knee hole on the desk. Note that the hinge is far enough back so that the writing surface appears to not require extra support.


The curved front of each drawer are interesting, but the top is even more so.


Notice that there are two layers to the top, so it apparently pulls away from the wall and opens into something bigger.


Another desk. How many times can I say, "beautiful veneer work?"

The front and sides have amazing marquetry, but so does the top



Look at the detail around the edge of this table

Notice that this very old clock correctly says that it is Sunday 29 May 2011 at 3:24 pm.


Notice the corner to corner x-shaped pattern on this tabletop. Notice the joint along that "x". Each triangle folds out to double the size of the table. The notches in the edge are where supports are pulled out from under the table, to support the triangles.

Is a linen press a place to store linens without wrinkling them? Or is it a press to very forcefully flatten the linens before they are stored? This press has a series of wooden plates that go between the layers of linens as they are pressed by turning the handscrew.

You could say this is the 1750 version of our electric steam iron.


Looks simple, but note the carved apron and legs

I guess quill pens and ink bottles are a lot messier than ball point pens (1950s) and mechanical pencils.


Simpler than many of the chests of drawers, but I like it a lot.

This puppet theater was used by Goethe as a kid, and referenced in his works, then ultimately became property of the library. It was "borrowed" in 1887. I wonder what the overdue fine is by now.

Note the trick used in theater sets - the "tile" squares at the front of the stage (on the left) are much larger than the tiles at the rear, giving the impression of much greater depth to the viewer sitting "in the audience".


This is the stand-up desk where Goethe wrote some of his earlier works. Certainly not in keeping with the other furniture of the house. I would have gladly made him something nicer ... oh.


We were allowed to explore the house including fireplaces that could be filled by servants from the hallway, without entering the main rooms, and various "modern" kitchen facilities, such as this water pump that produced relatively continuous flow of water by being driven with a pendulum.


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