An Upside Down Shaker Cupboard?


Built in the Enfield, Conn. Shaker community somewhere during the second quarter of the 1800s, this cupboard carries an interesting story. It was pointed out by renowned Shaker author and expert, John Kirk that the original cupboard has a door lock installed upside down when compared to what we think today – the round portion of the keyhole is at the bottom versus at the top.

Could this cupboard have been turned upside down at sometime in its history? Maybe. The Enfield cupboard began life as a built-in, which was pulled from the dwelling house of the East Family of Shakers and made to stand on its own. It’s known that the top and base are modern additions, so it is possible that the piece was arranged differently from when it lived as part of the structure.

Additionally, the bottom of many of the shelves show wear that indicates that, at one time, those bottoms could have been the tops.

All of these conundrums disappear when the case is flipped over. To my mind, having the larger cupboard section at the top is more useful, but to access the shorter storage area below would require one to be on their knees. And due to the way the cupboard was built, all the drawers work no matter which end is up.

I find all this to be fascinating. That’s why this cupboard has been on my bucket list for some time.

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