Find of the Week: Can your armoire fit 8 small men?

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NEW ORLEANS -- News with a Twist has teamed up with the Historic New Orleans Collection to bring you a unique find each week from the museum's vaults.

This week, we explore the symbolism of historic furniture design through a very unique armoire.

The year is 1810. Louisiana is in limbo: It's bought and paid for by the United States, but it's still a territory.

"There's still some question on whether they are still too Frenchy or too Spanish to join the United States," says Lydia Blackmore, decorative arts curator for the Historic New Orleans Collection. "It's before the Battle of New Orleans, where we fought and said yes, we are part of the United States.  It's also a time when the population is exploding."

The years of transition would reflect on the people and in the furniture, like the inlaid armoire at the HNOC.

"It's an interesting piece of Louisiana furniture history because overall it is a kind of French style, traditional 18th Century armoire with its molded cornice uptop, its scalloped skirt down at the bottom, and those little cabrio legs with kind of tiny hoove-like feet are French style," Blackmore says. "The inlay shows the influx of American craftsmen."

A melange of cherrywood and other fruitwood was usually tinged with heat or smoke and coloring agents to create beautiful images of depth, like patterns of leaves -- or initials.

"At the top there are the initial H.R. This was made for Ms. Helowise Aurora Roland, who was born in 1795," Blackmore says.

It was given to Ms. Roland by her father. These days, you might get a car for your 16th birthday. Back then, you got an armoire full of textiles, a dowry showing the literal worth of women.

You can see all the Historic New Orleans Collection has to offer by visiting either one of their campuses. The Royal Street campus, including The Shop at The Collection, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Chartres Street campus, including the Williams Research Center and Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Learn more about the Historic New Orleans Collection here.


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