French with German Ormolu Mounts
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Cradles that would either swing or rock have been built for over five centuries. Of course, most of those cradles, when rocked or swung a little too hard, would deposit Baby onto the floor. It wasn’t until the Nineteenth Century that the makers of baby cradles began to realize that they could build a mechanism that would keep the cradle from swinging or rocking too far and spilling the child out.
Here’s a handsome example of an early Nineteenth-Century cradle. The boat shape of this French cradle gives it the name “Bateau.” French cradles in this ovoid shape were usually made without elaborate decoration except for some figural carving at the top of the curving pole which was used to hold drapery—in this case a swan. So, with its glittering mounts, this one is quite a rarity. Instead of the usual plain mahogany of most similar cradles, this one is mounted with ormolu adornment. It’s believed, given the unusually elaborate decoration, that though the cradle was decidedly built in France, the ormolu mounts were added later, likely in Germany.