Dating furniture by legs

This form of turning was used in the late 17th century but became very fashionable in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. It was used on column supports, as table legs and was often used on oak antique furniture. A cabriole leg is a curved leg that is out swept and usually finishes with a pad foot. Originally seen on Queen Anne furniture, but heavily reproduced in the Edwardian period. A Spade foot with tapering leg is wider at the top and tapers down until it hits the foot and then the same shape appears but in a smaller taper, this will sit on a castor.

This design was popular on Edwardian Tables and chairs and can be seen with simple inlay decoration. Enter your email address below to stay up to date with all the latest news and events from Driscolls Antiques. Subscribe Delivery My Account. Antique Mahogany Furniture for sale. Types of veneer cuts in Antique Furniture. Handles Used on Antique Furniture. Furniture styles can be determined by careful study and remembering what design elements each one embraces. To help understand what defines each period, here are some of the major design elements for each period.

William and Mary, New colonists in America brought their English furniture traditions with them and tried to translate these styles using native woods. Their furniture was practical and sturdy. Lines of this furniture style tend to be crisp, while facades might be decorated with bold grains of walnut or maple veneers, framed by inlaid bands. Moldings and turnings are exaggerated in size. Turnings are baluster-shaped and the use of C-scrolls was quite common. Feet found in this period generally are round or oval. One exception to this is known as the Spanish foot, which flares to a scroll.

Woods tend to be maple, walnut, white pine or southern yellow pine. This style of furniture is much more delicate than its predecessor. It was one way for the young Colonists to show their own unique style, with each regional area initiating special design elements.

Dating furniture legs

Forms tend to be attenuated in New England. Chair rails were more often mortised through the back legs when made in Philadelphia. New England furniture makers preferred pad feet, while the makers in Philadelphia used triffid feet. Makers in Connecticut and New York often preferred slipper and claw and ball feet.

The most popular woods were walnut, poplar, cherry, and maple. Japanned decoration tends to be in red, green and gilt, often on a blue-green field.


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A new furniture form of this period was the tilting tea table. This book gave cabinetmakers real direction and they soon eagerly copied the styles presented. Chippendale was influenced by ancient cultures, such as the Romans, and Gothic influences. Look for Gothic arches, Chinese fretwork, columns, capitals, C-scrolls, S-scrolls, ribbons, flowers, leaves, scallop shells, gadrooning and acanthus leaves. The most popular wood used in this period was mahogany, with walnut, maple and cherry also present.

Legs become straight and regional differences still existed in design elements, such as feet. Claw and ball feet become even larger and more decorative. Pennsylvania cabinetmakers used Marlborough feet, while other regions favored ogee bracket feet. One of the most popular forms of this period was a card table that sported five legs instead of the four of Queen Anne designs.

Federal Hepplewhite , This period reflects the growing patriotism felt in the young American states. Their desire to develop their own distinctive furniture style was apparent.


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  • Stylistically it also reflects the architectural style known as Federal, where balance and symmetry were extremely important. Woods used during this period were mahogany and mahogany veneer, but other native woods, such as maple, birch or satinwood, were used.

    A primer on furniture styles

    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. 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. 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 Classical , By 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.

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    Inlays were popular when made of ebony or maple veneer. 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. 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. This is the first sub-category of the Victoria era.

    Dating furniture legs | London Art Therapy Centre

    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. It is one of the few styles that celebrates elements found in the corresponding architectural themes: 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.