03 July 2018
There are a number of different styles of antique furniture, each with their own unique selling points.
Knowing which style has which features may be the difference between finding a real antique and a replica. Replicas can either
be reproduced at a high quality; which can be difficult to spot, or machine made.
When they are machine made, they are often very much symmetrical, whereas the high quality reproductions are crafted by hand,
and have aged well; much as a real antique would.
Here are some different styles, and their most distinguishable features.
This is the oldest style of antique, and was fundamentally built as castle furniture. This style of furniture often
drew inspiration from the architecture of the buildings it was going to be placed in.
The furniture was often very basic in design, and rarely featured any curves; focusing on straight lines. Gothic
furniture was designed to last, which is an extremely attractive feature of this style.
However, it was often very grand in stature, which means it can be hard to house in modern buildings. A lot of Chippendale Bookcases are noted for their Gothic influences in design, based on the Gentleman and Cabinet Makers Director designs written by Thomas Chippendale.
This period started in the early parts of the 17th century, and the largest and most drastic change during this period was the decision of many furniture makers to start using mahogany instead of walnut wood.
The taxing of mahogany imports was lifted, which resulted in a larger use of the wood. It was favourable to use this wood, as it was a lot more durable and sturdy than previous materials. The furniture produced tended to be more ornate in design, with motifs often carved into the final product.
As this period progressed, more people started to have a better understanding of the available furniture. The middle and lower-upper class wanted to have the details that were often associated with wealth, which resulted in a boom in more affordable furniture becoming available for them, which often looked more expensive than it actually was.
Due to the change of available technology created by the Industrial Revolution, machinery had taken over furniture production by the Victorian period.
This meant that mass production of furniture was possible, in order to meet the demands of the Victorian people. It was thought that the more furniture you had in your home, the more superior you appeared to be.
The style of furniture was angled more towards the middle class, as Queen Victoria identified herself towards them, and this was reflected in designs. There was no real “one style” of Victorian furniture, but general characteristics were heavy and imposing pieces, with vast amounts of decoration.
Curves were starting to be used again, and mahogany and rosewood were the materials of choice during this period. This was due to the durability of these materials, as they were built to last. Dark stained oak also made a comeback during this age for the same reason.
From the turn of the 19th century, metal trim work started to become a lot more common on furniture. This was due to more advanced tools becoming available during the Industrial Revolution; meaning hand carving become a lot less common.
The Regency style was developed in England during this period, and tended to focus on mahogany as a material. This mahogany was often highly polished, and then finished with metallic details to give a more elegant, royal looking finish.
Depending on which style you are looking for, there are many forms of antiques to choose from. The piece should be in good condition; as there is no way to replace any fixtures such as the screws and hinges if they were created before the industrial revolution.
Having even a basic understanding of different styles of antiques, a decision should be easier to make on what style you are looking for, and the chances of finding an original piece are greatly improved.