Earlier this month, I found a wonderful antique cradle of mid-nineteenth century vintage at an estate sale in upstate New York. Such handsome features: the local hard maple wood, the dovetailing, the gently curved top and rockers, the carrying handles, and an early safety feature: two brass knobs on each side with which to “bundle” the baby with rope, ribbon or twine so s/he could not escape! I quickly paid a very reasonable price for such a handsome period addition to one of my farmhouse's bedchambers!
It must be noted that such cradles as these are of picturesque interest only. Their practical use, holding babies (despite knobs for bundling!), is cast in doubtful light if we consider that one wrong step, on one of the rockers, may catapult the little one who knows where!
Cradles of this vintage were often made by the father or grandfather with locally-milled woods and were handed down in families through subsequent generations. It is quite likely that my particular cradle has never left the county in which I purchased it. Early cradles were made to be placed right next to the parents’ bed, since bedrooms were actually a later addition to architecture that came with the ability to heat the home more efficiently.
I hope one day to find a mid-nineteenth century baby quilt at another estate sale!