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Antique cart adds historic touch to teas

January 13, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

When Charlotte Wilson of Clarksburg attended a luncheon at Adaland Mansion with her Quiet Dell Garden Club this fall, she learned from staff of Adaland's search for an antique tea cart for use with the specialty teas being offered to the public.

"Charlotte volunteered to look for a cart when she and her husband visited their son in North Carolina over the holidays," said Adaland Executive Director Sharon Harsh. "We were delighted to have her assistance, and Charlotte said she was delighted to have a reason to explore the many antique shops in Selma, N.C."

The hunt for the antique cart was successful as Charlotte and Jesse Wilson recently delivered an Imperial Furniture of Grand Rapids, Mich., antique mahogany tea cart, also known as a tea trolley.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
Jesse and Charlotte Wilson present to Adaland Executive Director Sharon Harsh the antique mahogany tea cart they found for use at Adaland Mansion. Staff members at the historic site near Philippi had been looking for such a cart to use for public tea events.

The cart itself is one of several tables made by one of America's premier 20th century furniture manufacturing companies Imperial Furniture, credited by some with inventing the low coffee table, operated from 1903 until 1954 when the company was sold to another furniture manufacturer.

The emblem design on the underneath side of the cart dates it to sometime in the Depression era. Imperial used an oval design with a shield and crown within until 1917, when the oval was removed to show just the shield-shaped emblem with a crown on top. The emblem under the tea cart shows this type of emblem.

Tea carts were especially popular during the Victorian era, 1837-1901. It was during this time that Adaland Mansion was built. The appearance of the tea cart and the presentation of the tea played a significant role in Victorian social culture. Carts were used to display several large china tea sets which were brought out to impress and entertain guests. Carts remained popular through the 1930s and were a fixture in many American homes of that time.

Harsh said the recently acquired tea cart will add a touch of the Victorian-inspired life most probably enjoyed in Adaland Mansion during its early days.

"We are grateful to the Wilsons for their interest in Adaland Mansion and are looking forward to our specialty tea guests enjoying this latest addition to our beautifully restored home."

More information is available at or 304-823-2456.



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