Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Material World of Early Springfield


Papier-mâché tilt-top table

c. 1850-1860

Collection of the Springfield Art Association

Papier-mâché furniture and decorative items, characterized by a black surface, painted embellishment, and mother-of-pearl inlay, were very popular in the years before the Civil War. These objects were "japanned" - that is, they were covered with a hard varnish in imitation of Asian lacquer.

The tilt-top table was owned by Salome Enos and was likely made in the Birmingham shop of Jennens and Bettridge. Its center panel depicts Ely Church in Cambridge, England.