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In the last newsletter we explored whatnots and etageres, which were used to display tchotchkes and knick knacks in the 16th and 17th Centuries by the common folk. In about the same period, the rich and the well to do had curio cabinets, which referred to entire rooms where they stored and displayed what they called curios. Curios were thecollections of things that they may have had; not unlike tchotchkes and knick knacks, but you couldn’t tell them that. The rooms were usually designed and built with glass panels to protect the belongings from the curious and this is where we get our modern curio cabinets of today.
Today the modern curio cabinet is used not only by royalty but us common folk too, to display our collections of snow globes, porcelain dolls or antique head vases. Although they are not complete rooms, they do indeed have glass panels and doors to protect whatever collection is inside. Modern curio cabinets come in many different shapes, sizes and colors. They are also usually made of wood, are lighted and have adjustable shelves, making them ideal display cases. Another misconception is that curio cabinets are for old folks, because it stands to reason that they have more old stuff to put away. However, nothing could be further from the truth as more and more designers are using the curio cabinet to showcase small collections.
Curio Cabinets come in many different styles and are very versatile. Some are very elaborate with beveled glass and cabriole legs or carved wood. Some curio cabinets can be made of natural hard woods, they can be antique, vintage or than can be purchased as reproductions; some designers even paint their curio cabinets and then distress them to make them look old and shabby. A curio cabinet can be used in many rooms of a home to not only showcase a collection, but as safe storage. A curio cabinet can be used in a den to display an autographed baseball collection or in the family room to display a vintage amberina glass collection.