The above two pictures gives one an overall idea of the Mather parlor. I will be posting additional photos starting with what I call the entertainment center which is just out of shot on the left in the top picture and I will go around the room ending just out of shot to the right of the bottom picture where there is the door which leads to the library which I will discuss in the next post. One thing one has to know if one is planning on visiting the Mather House: there is a lot to take in. Do not expect to just pop in and take a few minutes. After the parlor we have the library, the exhibit room, the kitchen, and then the main hallway and that is not even the tip of the iceberg with all of the outer buildings. In each room and building there are a lot of artifacts. In this format and for this price one would find it hard to find another museum on Long Island like this. Another thing that I would like to point out is the table in the second picture. It is NOT a dining room table, people were not dramatically shorter back in 1840 as opposed to today. This is a great misconception and people look at the size of houses and beds as proof. This is not the best proof. Houses were built to a certain size for two reasons: cost and heating. Beds were also a certain size for cost, space and because a lot of people slept sitting up not because they were substantially shorter. Depending on which study one reads the average height for a man in 1840 was roughly 5'8" and today is roughly 5'10". Not a huge difference. The table that we see in the picture above is similar to a tea table or a pedestal table (1840) - a table for having a tea or maybe playing cards or any other light activity.
So as one walks into the parlor one would find the entertainment center to the left. To the right, and I will post the picture after this description, of the doorway one would find the Empire sideboard. The sideboard is also to the right of the doorway leading to the library to help give one an idea of the layout of the room. In the above picture we have a Mechanical Orguinette from the Mechanical Orguinette Co. This is an improved model probably dating around 1880. Earlier models had the paper feed into the orguinette and would create a loop around the orguinette as one cranked it. The improved models had the paper contained on rollers within the orguinette. The premise was simple: crank the handle and music will play. It was known as "the most wonderful music-producing instrument in the world! It plays everything sacred, secular and popular! It is a marvel of cheapness, and the king of musical instruments!" The price ranged anywhere from $8 to $2000. To the right of this musical wonder is the stereoscope. This is the item that a lot of us knew as a View-Master - same idea in a lot of ways - but in 1861 it was known as the Holmes stereoscope. One views two identical images side-by-side, the left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene creates it as a single three dimensional image. An evening would be spent viewing a stack of cards (the images) of various locations.