The Trust’s collection includes some 520 pieces of furniture which can be seen at Waterville, Tucker House and Verdmont. Among the earliest are two pieces at Verdmont: a wainscot chair dating from c1660 and an outstanding Bermuda cedar tallboy which dates from c1680. The vast majority of the early pieces in the collection were probably made by enslaved men, who were known to be skilled shipwrights, masons, cabinet-makers and silversmiths, as well as fearless and skilled seamen and navigators.

The definitive book on Bermudian furniture and silver is Bryden B Hyde’s Bermuda’s Antique Furniture & Silver, published in 1971 by the newly formed Bermuda National Trust. In the earliest days, furniture was made of the indigenous Bermuda cedar, in styles influenced by English, Spanish and American craftsmen. Hyde described the wood’s virtues for cabinetry: “Cedar resists moth, cockroach, cricket, termite and mildew. It is strong and springy, does not warp, is easily worked, turned, carved, and finishes a red colour which fades to honey in sunlight. Its sweet smell is retained for centuries.”

Hyde believed that the best cedar furniture was made between 1612 and 1750, after which mahogany came into fashion, and considered that the cedar chest-on-frame was the most characteristic of all Bermuda-made furniture. The most Bermudian feature of these chests was the elaborate chest-front dovetailing.

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