Since time immemorial, every Cape ‘opstal’ (farmstead) had a coffee ‘konfoor’ in the ‘voorkamer’ (parlour). A ‘konfoor’ is a small round table brazier that was used to keep a pot of coffee warm. It was usually made with red or yellow copper or brass. The word ‘konfoor’ is used to describe the coffee pot on the brazier as a complete item.
|The F J Staal 'konfoor' and mug|
Naturally it was one of the first items we re-introduced for a side-table in the ‘voorkamer’. When researching the history of the property I also looked at the inventories of the Orphan Chamber, Cape Town Archives Repository.
|The scene in the 'voorkamer'|
|The unmarked 'konfoor'|
|Decorative detail on the unmarked 'konfoor'|
Examining the inventories of farms in the area of our home Towerwater aan de Breede, I found the following descriptions recorded in Dutch:
- MOOC8/21.2 - Inventory of Elsje Botha on 15 November 1794 - ‘Op de plaats de Sanddrif - In t voorhuis - een kopere theekeetel en confoir’
- MOOC8/63.18a – Inventory of Beatrix Steyn and Jacobus Frederik Steyn on 30 July 1817 – ‘Een leeningsplaats genaamd de Zanddrift geleegen aan de Breede Rivier - een komphoor’
- MOOC8/27.30 – Inventory of Petronella Maria le Roux en Philip Lodewijk Schalkwijk on 9 November 1808 – ‘Een leenings plaats gen:d Potjes Kraal gel: aan de Breede Rivier – In t voothuis – een aarde komfoor’
- MOOC8/49.17a – Inventory of Matthijs de Jager en Maria Elizabeth Steyn on 22 March 1782 – ‘een opstal staande op de leeningsplaats gen:t de Paarde Cloof gelegen aan de Breede Rivier - 1 cop: comfoir’
The various inventories show us that the ‘konfoor’ was an essential part of the Cape house and was traditionally found in the ‘voorkamer’ where guests would have been received.
The ‘konfoor’ was recorded in the inventories with several different spellings. It seems that the vernacular tongue of the person recording the inventory influenced how items were recorded. Some of the spellings, with the year indicated in brackets, that I sourced were konfoort (1720), konfoor (1723), konfoir (1818), komfoor (1717), komfoort (1720), komfoir (1787) , confoor (1713),confoort (1715), comfoortje (1779), comfoort (1790), conphoor (1799), konphoor (1808), comfoir (1761) and confoir (1784).
|Stamp on the F J Staal 'konfoor'|
|The F J Staal 'konfoor'|
|Decorative detail on the F J Staal 'konfoor'|
|F J Staal 1857-1934 (Photo: The Cape Copper-Smith by Marius le Roux)|
|The 'konfoor' and mug from left to right: lid, mug, urn, bag, konfoor and brazier|
|The coffee bag with its brass handle|
|The coffee bag with its brass handle inside the urn with the lid off|
|The brazier part of the 'konfoor'|
With our preference of acquiring antiques that were indisputably made in the area, we did however have a long term desire to replace the unstamped ‘konfoor’ in the ‘voorkamer’ with a F. J. Staal ‘konfoor’. Now the ‘voorkamer’ is graced with a ‘konfoor’ and mug made by the best known copper-smith of the region and our F. J. Staal collection is complete, well I think so.
The Cape Copper-Smith by Marius le Roux published by the Stellenbosch museum in 1981
Inventories of the Orphan Chamber Cape Town Archives Repository, South Africa