What is an Antique Whatnot?
The antique whatnot stand was intended to display a variety of objects, ornaments, curiosities, books and papers. They are usually in very nice serpentine or simpler rectangular shapes, with three shelves and occasionally one or two drawers below. They were supported by turned columns at the edges. Whatnots were very popular in the 19th century and they were usually made of mahogany, rosewood or walnut and were sometimes had ormolu mounts. In addition the shelves of some pieces were edged with pierced brass galleries.
More finer examples was the étagère. The French word étagère meaning stand, combines both the qualities of the English dumb waiter and the whatnot put together. They usually had two or three tiers and was used for displaying objects or for serving food.
In some cases the top tier could be removed and used as a tray and casters and handles on the lower tier enable the piece to be pulled around a room. French etageres were more highly decorated than British ones. By the 1860s there was a large variety of different designs available, from ones that had ormolu mounts, gilding, motifs and Rococo curves and scrolls.
Please visit our current stock here for some fine examples for sale or see examples below –