Older Furniture Styles

Most old wooden furniture you will encounter, most likely, will be either traditional English or American Colonial styles. Let’s review the special characteristics of both popular types. 

Basic English Furniture Styles

The following criteria will help you determine if your old furniture is an English-made antique.

Queen Anne
Early 18th century
Woods used: Walnut, also, cherry,
mahogany, maple and oak.
Description: Graceful curves, curved (cabriole) leg, with no rungs or stretchers; minimal decoration, very simple; scallop-shell mount.

Georgian Chippendale
Late 18th century
Woods used: Mahogany
Description: Elaboration of Queen Anne; ornate carvings, either delicate or bold; many themes, including rococo, English, Chinese,
Greek classic; intricate chair backs.

Georgian Adam
Late 18th century
Woods used: Mahogany
Description: Straight, slender lines; heavy Greek classic influence; fluted columns; delicate low-relief carvings, especially draped garlands.

Georgian Hepplewhite
Late 18th century
Woods used: Mahogany; satinwood inlay/veneer
Desscription: Based on Adam; straight tapered legs; shield- oval-, or heart-shaped chair backs; less decoration; delicate carvings.

Georgian Sheraton
Late 18th century
Woods used: Mahogany
Description: Similar to Hepplewhite and other Georgian styles; straighter, more upright lines; Greek classic influence; lyre-shaped chair backs; inlays and thick veneers.

Regency
Early 19th century
Woods used: Mahogany
Description: Simple, bold curves; smaller scale; more functional, more intimate; colors used.

Victorian
Late 19th century
Woods used: Mahogany, walnut, rosewood
Description: heavy, massive, substantial; dark finish; clumsy dessign; ornate carvings and decorations; marble tops used.

Basic American Furniture Styles

The following criteria will help you determine if your old furniture is an American-made antique.

Early Colonial
17th century
Woods used: Pine; birch, maple, walnut
Description: Hybrid of English styles; square lines; solid construction; heavy decoration and carving.

Late Colonial
18th century
Woods used: Pine; mahogany
Description: Imported wood; interpretations of Queen Anne and Georgian styles; formal.
Windsor chair.

Federal
Early 19th century
Woods used: Mahogany, cherry
Description: Interpretations of Georgian styles; Duncan Phyfe variations of
Sheraton style; some French influence; heavier versions of English styles. Boston rocker, Hitchcock chair.

Pennsylvania Dutch
Late 17th to mid-19th century
Woods used: Maple, pine, walnut, fruitwoods
Description: Solid, plain; Germanic style; colorful painted Germanic decorations.

Shaker
Late 18th to mid-19th century
Woods used: Pine; maple
Description: Severely functional; no decoration; superior craftsmanship; excellent design.

The Editors of Consumer Guide.  “How to Identify Antique Wooden Furniture”  21 December 2006.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/how-to-identify-antique-wooden-furniture-for-refinishing.htm&gt;  22 March 2011.t

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