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If you are trying to determine the age of a piece of American antique furniture , it will require investigative work. Look closely at the the different elements that make the piece of furniture. Examine the level of work that went into the furniture from the joinery, finishing, knobs, and more. Study the materials used from the wood, fabric, and screws. If you take all these factors into consideration, you may be able to figure out on your own if have an antique or a machine-made reproduction.
Machine-made furniture will have components that match more perfectly than those made by hand. When hand planes were used to smooth woods, they usually left some sort of uneven surface.
This is especially evident on the back or underside of pieces made prior to the mids. Hand chisels and wood-shaping tools operated with elbow grease left cuts and nicks in the wood.
In comparison, manually operated hand saws left a straighter pattern. A handcrafted furniture piece does not set it in time as an antique. Furniture is still being crafted by hand today. However, machine-made evidence does give you a better picture of when the piece of furniture could not be from.
It can be difficult distinguishing the type of wood or finish used on a furniture piece, but these are important clues. Certain types of woods were favored during different furniture periods. For example, oak was primarily used in furniture made prior to Aftermahogany and walnut were very popular.
Moving into the s, maple and cherry showed up in fine furniture manufacture quite often. Many Victorian furniture manufacturers used mahogany and rosewood through the late s.
Then, aroun oak became popular again. The type of wood used is not an exact indicator of age, but when you tie in the other factors like style and construction technique, you start to get a better idea of the date of the piece.
Antiques Atlas, Browse Antiques by Date and Period, buy from British antique dealers. Jan 05, The video above provides a great introduction to dating antique furniture and what areas should be examined. Take note of the shape of the screws used to hold the furniture Author: Timothy Dahl. Identifying Antique Furniture or Good Reproductions. When trying to identify antique furniture, dedicated antique hunters search for beautifully preserved pieces, armed with pins, magnifying .
Original upholstery materials like silk, wool, or cotton were spun and woven into a variety of damasks, satins, and brocades with many different patterns. Woods used during this period were mahogany and mahogany veneer, but other native woods, such as maple, birch or satinwood, were used.
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Reflecting the architectural ornamentation of the period, inlays were popular, as was carving and even painted highlights. The motifs used for inlay included bellflowers, urns, festoons, acanthus leaves and pilasters, to name but a few. Inlaid bands and lines were also popular and often used in combination with other inlay.
Legs of this period tend to be straight or tapered to the foot. The foot might be a simple extension of the leg, or bulbous or spade shaped. Two new furniture forms were created in this period. They are the sideboard and the worktable.
Antique furniture dating
Expect to find a little more comfort in chairs and sofas, but not very thick cushions or seats. When a piece of furniture is made in England, or styled after an English example, it may be known as Hepplewhite.
The time frame is the same. Robert Adam is credited with creating the style known as Hepplewhite during the s and leading the form. Another English book heavily influenced the designers of the day. Sheraton, The style known as Sheraton closely resembles Federal. The lines are somewhat straighter and the designs plainer than Federal. Sheraton pieces are more closely associated with rural cabinetmakers.
Woods would include mahogany, mahogany veneer, maple and pine, as well as other native woods. Empire ClassicalBy the beginning of the 19th century, a new design style was emerging.
Known as Empire, it had an emphasis on the classical world of Greece, Egypt and other ancient European influences. The American craftsmen began to incorporate more flowing patriotic motifs, such as eagles with spread wings. The basic wood used in the Empire period was mahogany.
However, during this period, dark woods were so favored that often mahogany was painted black. Inlays were popular when made of ebony or maple veneer.
A primer on furniture styles
The dark woods offset gilt highlights, as were the brass ormolu mountings often found in this period. The legs of this period are substantial and more flowing than those found in the Federal or Sheraton periods. Regional differences in this style are very apparent, with New York City being the center of the design style, as it was also the center of fashion at the time. This valuable furniture guide can be purchased at krausebooks. New furniture forms of this period include the sleigh bed, with the headboard and footboard forming a graceful arch.
Several new forms of tables also came into being, especially the sofa table. Because the architectural style of the Empire period used big, open rooms, the sofa was now allowed to be in the center of the room, with a table behind it. Former architectural periods found most furniture placed against the outside perimeter of the walls and brought forward to be used.
Victorian, The Victorian period as it relates to furniture styles can be divided into several distinct styles. Her love of ornate styles is well known. When thinking of the general term, think of a cluttered environment, full of heavy furniture, and surrounded by plants, heavy fabrics and lots of china and glassware. French Restoration, This is the first sub-category of the Victoria era.
This style is best simplified as the plainest of the Victorian styles. Lines tend to be sweeping, undulating curves. It is named for the style that was popular in France as the Bourbons tried to restore their claim to the French throne, from to The Empire Classical period influence is felt, but French Restoration lacks some of the ornamentation and fussiness of that period.
Design motifs continue to reflect an interest in the classics of Greece and Egypt. Chair backs are styled with curved and concave crest rails, making them a little more comfortable than earlier straight-back chairs.
The use of bolster pillows and more upholstery is starting to emerge. The style was only popular in clusters, but did entice makers from larger metropolitan areas, such as Boston and New Orleans, to embrace the style. The Gothic Revival, This is relatively easy to identify for collectors.
Determining the age of antiques is half the fun! Learn 10 specific steps to establishing an accurate age for your antique furniture. A single piece of antique furniture is more than a collection of . Nov 20, William and Mary, The style is named for the English King William of Orange and his consort, Mary. New colonists in America brought their English furniture . If you are trying to determine the age of a piece of American antique furniture, it will require investigative rhodeshotel.net closely at the the different elements that make the piece of furniture.
It is one of the few styles that celebrates elements found in the corresponding architectural themes: turrets, pointed arches and quatrefoils-designs found in 12th through 16th centuries that were adapted to this mid-century furniture style.
Furniture that had mechanical parts was also embraced by the Victorians of this era. The woods preferred by makers of this period were walnut and oak, with some use of mahogany and rosewood.
The scale used ranged from large and grand to small and petite. Carved details gave dimension and interest. Carved decoration in the form of scallop shells, leaves and flowers, particularly roses, and acanthus further add to the ornamentation of this style of furniture. Legs and feet of this form are cabriole or scrolling. Other than what might be needed structurally, it is often difficult to find a straight element in Rococo Revival furniture.
The use of marble for tabletops was quite popular, but expect to find the corners shaped to conform to the overall scrolling form.
To accomplish all this carving, walnut, rosewood, and mahogany were common choices. When lesser woods were used, they were often painted to reflect these more expensive woods. Some cast-iron elements can be found on furniture from this period, especially if it was cast as scrolls.
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The style began in France and England, but eventually migrated to America where it evolved into two other furniture styles, Naturalistic and Renaissance Revival. Elizabethan, This sub-category of the Victorian era is probably the most feminine-influenced style.
It also makes use of the new machine-turned spools and spiral profiles that were fast becoming popular with furniture makers. New technology advancements allowed more machined parts to be generated.
By adding flowers, either carved or painted, the furniture pieces of this era had a softness to them. Chair backs tend to be high and narrow, having a slight back tilt. Legs vary from straight to baluster-turned forms to spindle turned. A real antique is very rarely perfectly cut; a reproduction with the same components will be because a machine will have cut it.
The finish on the wood can also date the piece. Until Victorian times, shellac was the only clear surface finish; lacquer and varnish were not developed until the mids. The finish on furniture, made beforeis usually shellac; if the piece is very old, it may be oil, wax, or milk paint. Fine old works are often French-polished, a variation of the shellac finish.
A lacquer or varnish finish is a sure sign of later manufacture. If the piece is painted, test it with ammonia; older pieces may be finished with milk paint, which can be removed only with ammonia. If the piece of furniture is dirty or encrusted with wax, clean it first with a mixture of denatured alcohol, white vinegar, and kerosene, in equal parts.
The type of wood is the final clue. Very early furniture, from the Middle Ages until the beginning of the eighteenth century, is mostly oakbut since the end of the seventeenth century, other woods as walnut and mahogany became the preferred choice among the cabinet makers.
Around the s they came to recognise the better properties of the walnutwhich dense grain allowed for lighter and finer shapes of the furniture, and quickly turned into a most fashionable material. However, in the early eighteenth century, the walnuts in central Europe were nearly extinguished by a frosty winter and its numbers were significantly reduced.
Meanwhile in s mahogany became increasingly popular after it was introduced to England, imported from the British colonies in Honduras and the West Indies. The walnuts quickly became almost entirely superseded by the exotic newcomer, which remained the favourite choice for the next century, especially in England and America.
Most antique wooden furniture you will encounter, will either be from traditional English periods or American Colonial styles.