Posted 2 years ago
The use of coal in fireplaces was once common. It needed to be stored near the fireplace.
A purdonium is basically a coal scuttle with a nice decorative often wood exterior with a removable tin liner so that it could be refilled, a somewhat messy prospect, away from the fire side. It was first introduced in about 1847 and reportedly was named after a Mr. Purdon.
A purdonium can be a relatively simple affair of essentially a decorative wooden box with a slanted lid that was lifted to access the coal. However, some were a rather grander, even taking the form of a piece of miniature furniture with shelves, galleries, mirrors, etc.
This posted example is in the form of a small chiffonier or etagere (hope I'm using those terms correctly) only 46 3/4 inches in height with a carved crest, 2 shelves and a beveled mirror. I believe it to be of English origin, late 19th century. It is rosewood, faux grained rosewood (edges of shelves and the back) with a light wood inlay. It has wonderful gilt side handles and an acorn pull. All mounted on turned feet with brass and black porcelain wheels. The coal was stored in the pull out bin. The tin liner is missing. By the way, the pictures are lopsided, not the purdonium.
I guess one could use it store coal or even firewood. Could store wood pellets in it for one's pellet stove? Someone suggested it would be an elegant way of storing dry dog food for that pampered pooch? However, I think it would make a useful side table or even a night stand. The bin part works really well to store reading materials (e.g., newspapers, magazines) or anything one might wish to have handy.