This is by far one of my favorite pieces and prompts the most questions from visitors: “What IS it?” Well, it is a baby walker. Although I’m not sure if that is what it was called by its original owner.
The portion that holds the baby slides back and forth so the baby can “walk the plank”.
I love the leather hinges that allow you to open the area to place the baby…
and the inconsistency in their attachment.
Six wooden wheels made moving the contraption around easier.
I was told by the seller that it is English and 18th century. But having spent some time dabbling in the antiques business I only believe the former.
The wood turnings, feel and age of the wood and other details make me believe it is more likely mid to late Victorian.
This screw is one detail that leads me to doubt the earlier age. When looking at antiques DO look at the hardware. (A screw with an off centered slot will be earlier than a screw with a precisely centered slot. And even earlier pieces will have no screws at all.)
While doing some research on this I was amused by this 14th century image that depicts Jesus using a baby walker. Certainly items such as these were in the homes of the privileged.
I am in a dilemma over what to do with this piece because we are in the process of planning to downsize.
Currently it is tucked under a window and holds books and some X-box equipment for the TV that is close by. I have considered getting a piece of glass cut and making it into a coffee table, but since Sweetie likes to put his feet up on things like that (boots and all) I am thinking it will just be a source of argument.
Perhaps I can sell it to someone who will love and respect it too. (Unlike the last owner who kept it out on the porch with plants on it!) Meanwhile it remains a conversation piece and makes me smile whenever I (occasionally) dust and vacuum around it!