Figures such as these probably originated in the early 17th century and were popular through to the 19th century. There are written references to such figures through this period, including several examples that were listed as 'cut out pieces to stand upon the stairs' in the inventory at Cobham Hall, Kent (1672); a figure of the 'Housewife with her Broom' was, according to Ned Ward in The London Spy, 1700, 'very usually set up in Great Families as good Examples to Servant Wenches, to make 'em mindful of their Cleanliness'; and one was noted by John Abdy Repton in the Gentleman's Magazine, November 1845 (p. 590) as 'a painting...cut out of a board'. Such wooden templates, both 'large as life' and smaller examples such as these two, have been known since the 19th century as 'picture board dummies'. Dummy-boards had a variety of purposes, but primarily they were used as whimsical decoration in private houses, where they depicted maid servants or butlers who welcomed the guests. They were also used to disguise empty fireplaces in the summer.