We have been making furniture for thousands of years, and despite technology and innovations, people do prefer the fine craftsmanship and skill that combine to make antique furniture. Of course, there are many different periods or eras, each with its own unique style, and with that in mind, here is a brief description of some of the most popular eras for antique furniture.
- William & Mary Era – The late 17th and early 18th centuries saw what is known as the William and Mary period, named after King William of England and his consort, Mary, who inspired a new design of furniture that was taken to the New World, where local timbers were used to replicate the English oak. Maple, walnut and several species of pine were used to make sturdy furniture that had crisp straight lines, and walnut and maple veneers were commonly inlaid into the facades.
- The Queen Anne Period – Encompassing the reign of Queen Anne in the mid-18th century, this style originally came from the court of Queen Anne in the early part of the 18th Delicate in design, this period allowed young colonists in America to design their own unique chests of drawers, tables and chairs, with Philadelphia, New England, Connecticut and New York, all contributing to various designs. When looking to add to your collection, you can always buy antiques online, and the online antique dealer would have an extensive network, and can source just about anything.
- The Georgian Era – From the beginning of the 18th century to the start of the 19th century, the Georgian period encompassed the reigns of George I, II and III respectively, with key design influence coming from both Chippendale and Hepplewhite. Imported mahogany took over from walnut as the timber of choice for furniture making during this period, and if one designer gained prominence, it was Thomas Chippendale, who really did influence all the major cabinet makers of his time.
- Rococo Era – From 1730-1770, the Rococo period saw the prominence of cabinet makers Hubert Gravelot and Thomas Johnson, who both liked scrolling and sweeping curves, with elaborate carvings. Asymmetric designs were the order of the day, with timbers like mahogany, walnut, oak, elm and even beech, with some spectacular marble inlays. The French designs were more elaborate, while the British tried to be more practical, and both were very popular across Europe and in America.
- The Gothic Revival Era – This was the time for the dark woods to shine, especially with soft fabrics like velvet and tanned leathers, and the Gothic style returned as it suited the religious perceptions at that time, with many thinking society had become too frivolous, so it was back to stark designs that were very functional. Lots of pointed arches to be found on chairs tables and other items, and it was very much back to the Medieval times.
Sourcing antiques can be time-consuming, yet by searching online for a local dealer that is well-respected within the industry, you can partner up with an expert and he can source specific pieces on your behalf. Of course, there are many more definitive styles, and by spending a few hours a week learning through online resources, you can become an expert in your preferred eras.