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George III hexagonal cellarette

George III inlaid mahogany, satinwood, ebony and engraved harewood hexagonal cellarette, English, ca. 1775


Definition: a hinged, portable container used to store wine or liquor bottles; traditionally made of wood, the interior was often lined with metal or lead, and was sometimes compartmentalized; frequently equipped with a lock; developed around 1700, it flourished in the late 1700s and well into the 1800s.

Often on display in a dining room, cellarettes could be ornately decorated or carved. They came in a variety of shapes, progressively growing taller (along with wine bottles) in the 18th century. The earliest varieties resembled chests or barrels, and stood on tall legs equipped with castors; later, with the rise of Neo-Classical styles around the turn of the 18th century, sarcophagus shapes - often resting on elaborate paw feet - became common (see photo, More Images).

The term can also refer to a metal-lined compartment or deep tray for bottles within a sideboard, liquor cabinet or mini-bar.

Alternate spelling: cellaret (British)

Example: The sarcophagus-shaped, Regency cellarette made for a slightly ghoulish - but still effective - wine cooler.

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