Artifact of the Week: The What-Not

By Shelby Clifford, AHS Co-op Student

At the Hillary House, a specific artifact often goes unseen when tours are conducted around the house. In our drawing room, sitting quietly, we have a What-Not, a specific shelf created for a corner used to house what else? With what-nots! Situated throughout history in almost all drawing rooms, this piece of furniture was a staple in a variety of homes, mainly in Europe, throughout the 19th century. The idea was based of off the french shelf, called the Étagère, in which the design was square shaped instead of fitting into a corner, and also displayed a variety of different items upon its shelves. It was recreated into a triangular shape and appeared the have a wide base that got smaller the more the levels were added on. What nots, which can range from glasses, to vases,

Inside of the Hillary House, our What-Not is currently housing a variety of different vases, a knife, and other little sets of pottery scattered throughout. It has a beautiful scalloped brackets and 5 thin levels that support the different items that the Hillary family had collected over the years. Although it is most commonly referred to a victorian-style piece of furniture from the 1950’s, it is a continuous example of the ever changing trends of furniture, and is a prime example of the preservation of small aspects of history that we continue to keep alive inside the house.