Dutch furniture

I’ve mentioned before that I have a great mailbox. Astounding things appear in it from time to time. This one’s a long story that I will skip here, but thanks to Trent and Loek van Aalst I have this great new book on joined oak furniture from the northern Netherlands.

You might remember a post I did a while back about a cupboard that was on display at the MFA Boston – just an amazing object.


Then later, I saw the same cupboard in the exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Turns out it’s one of several period pieces owned by the couple whose collection was featured in that exhibit; and it was van Aalst (one of the co-authors of this book) who guided them in the furniture end of things…


The book is all in Dutch, but it isn’t that hard to figure out the basics. some of the details will take some work…but I have a co-worker who is Dutch. That helps.

One of the joined stools in the text was described as having turned legs and large houses. We finally sussed out that it means the mortises are long, to accomodate a deep (or high) apron. So the “houses” were mortises. In 17th-century English, the tenon is sometimes rendered “tennant” – so not all that weird.  Here’s some other  stools from the book –

If you like oak furniture, joined & carved & decorated all over, I’d say get the book. We are finding all manner of parallels between the stuff in this book and things we have seen in New England furniture for years & years.



Thanks, Trent. thanks, Loek van Aalst.

8 thoughts on “Dutch furniture

  1. Why did you have to go show me that book? Now I have to figure out where to scrape up 100 euro – my better half is from Noord Nederland.

    By the way, have you made any of the pieces at the Frontier Culture Museum in Stanton, VA ?

  2. That looks like a very nice book.
    I’d like to get it just to have visual representation of pieces that I would like to try one day.
    It would compliment some of the many fine examples you’ve provided us.
    Thank you.

    • Drew – Amazon, Schmamazon. There’s other places in the world to buy books! There’s a link to the publisher right in my post. One thing I learned about furniture history books is, don’t wait. they are usually small editions that don’t stay in print long, and they cost money. But….if that’s what you want, that’s what you gotta get…personally, I would pay the money for this one, because there is nothing like it that I have seen. I think Trent would agree, & he’s been at these studies longer than me…

      • Okay, thanks Ill look into it. Its pretty much the same way with armour books. its just that balance between tools and books. Books and tools.

        I just finished just reading The Artisan of Ipswich btw. Great read and expanding perspective. I agree more pictures, though Rob strikes a balance with a great narrative.

  3. …and the discussion over rights to trees, “illegal lumbering” and deforestation was fascinating and poignant

  4. The van Aalst book is essential reading, even if you have to buy a Dutch/English dictionary. Once you get a basic vocabulary, things will fall in place. It helps to have German reading ability. We have been dying to have a smart Dutch colleague for years. And here he is!!! The book does not go into turned chairs much. As time passes, more and more Dutch-influenced American furniture will come to light, and it is much better made than Anglo-American joinery. I harangued Peter to post the book so thanks Peter.

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