Cup Board


We recently made a cup board. Not a cupboard (although I have made a couple of those).

No, it’s literally a board with pegs for holding cups. It hangs over the fireplace and adds a decorative touch to the kitchen in our old 1832 Georgia plantation plain style home.

And it got me thinking about the word – cupboard. I learned long ago that it’s a shortened form of cup board, but when did people start using such a thing?

It was in the “new” stone age (Neolithic era), when people started living in settlements with walls and roofs. They baked clay into vessels like cups and plates. Which created the need for a place to put that stuff… and presto: some brilliant inventor came up with the idea of a mounting a board to the wall so food implements didn’t sit on the dirt floor.

Thus the “cup board” was invented and the race was on to see how much variety subsequent generations of designers could build into this lifestyle necessity which eventually grew doors and enclosed spaces.

Old Mother Hubbard and her Anglo-Saxon friends even slurred the name to cupboard, maybe just for rhyming purposes. Nobody knows for sure.

Sometimes elaborate and sometimes plain, the cupboard is everywhere now, though in modern kitchens we call them “cabinets.”

Our house has an indoor kitchen now (it didn’t in 1832), plus cabinets from a 1960’s makeover (just like in the bottom picture!).

And we are quite proud of our retro cup board addition.

Salvaged from an old barn doorway, it is embedded with square-cut hand forged nails. The wooden pegs are a Shaker design (Shakers used to hang everything, even chairs, from pegs).

But what’s the best feature of our cup board?

Functionality.

It hangs directly over the fire which keeps the cups nice and warm overnight ensuring a wonderfully hot morning cup of coffee.

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