Antiques through the Ages: Late 17th Century (Part II)

In the second part of the Antiques through the Ages guide, we will cover three styles of the late 1600s. Carolean and William and Mary were two English styles during this time while Louis XIV reflected the French style.

Carolean (Restoration): 1660 – 1688

The Carolean period is the last of the three Jacobean styles and is commonly referred to as the Restoration Period. When King Charles II returned from exile and came to power, he reversed Oliver Cromwell’s very plain style. He incorporated more of a French influence into the English style after being in France for his exile. This furniture period was also influenced by the Dutch, Spanish, and Italian.

Furniture included more elaborate carvings and colorful upholstery and was lighter than previous styles. With carvings more commonly incorporated into furniture, walnut became more popular than oak because it was easier to work with for scrolls and curves. In addition to carvings, applied decorations of pendants, roses, and grapevines were added to furniture. Geometric designs were more common for drawers. During Charles II’s reign, the typical decoration for chairs was a crown and cherubs, but while his successor James II ruled, furniture commonly had palm leaves instead of cherubs.

Chairs saw a significant transformation during the Restoration. High-backed chairs replaced those of the Cromwellian period and commonly had scrolled legs and stretchers. Until this point, chairs were not frequently used, but after 1660, they were used as seats at the table.  In addition to the prominence of chairs, the gateleg table was introduced during this era.

Check out this gateleg table from Beauchamp:

18th century styled English Gateleg drop leaf table custom made in cherry.

Gateleg Table

 

William and Mary: 1688 – 1702

The William and Mary period was largely influenced by the Dutch because of William II, who brought craftsmen with him to England. Other influences included Flemish, French, and Chinese. Furniture commonly featured Oriental lacquer work–called “Chinoiserie”–showcasing the influence of the Chinese.

Chairs continued to go through transformations. Comfort and luxury became a greater concern than before, leading to improved upholstery techniques. Chairs had taller and rounded backs, which also helped to make them a more comfortable fit. Trumpet-turned legs and X-stretchers were popularly used to provide more stability. William and Mary furniture makers continued the trend of using walnut in their pieces for the ease of carving.

A few different techniques and trends emerged during the William and Mary period. Dovetailing enabled craftsmen to build furniture with thinner boards, and veneering was introduced as well. The trend of a comfort- and luxury-oriented focus resulted in the production of dining tables, easy chairs, and desks.  Designs transitioned away from the rectilinear trends of the Jacobean era; the rounded chair backs with carvings resulted in a softer look.

 

Louis XIV: 1661 – 1715

The Louis XIV period was one of grandeur with elaborate ornamentation, quality workmanship, and a dignified look. In previous eras, furniture pieces often served multiple purposes, but during the Louis XIV period, furniture became more individualized with more specific uses. Popular furniture forms during this time were commodes, mirrors, and chandeliers. Chairs ranged from high-backed padded armchairs to stools; one piece that fully embraced the Louis XIV style was the upholstered armchair. Decorations typically consisted of carvings that were gilded, often in gold. Crimson, green, and dark blue were commonly paired with gold leaf.

Early in the period, furniture was heavy but as the period progressed, the sizes got smaller, which increased the appeal. Craftsmen typically used chestnut, walnut, or oak for large pieces. Boulle, one of the period’s prominent craftsmen, created a technique of inlay or veneering with contrasting materials, typically using tortoiseshell, ebony, and brass.

Take a look at a few of Beauchamp’s Louis XIV pieces:

 louis-xiv-armchair  louix-xiv Louis XIV Bonnetiere from Southwest of France
Louis XIV ArmchairsLouis XIV ArmchairLouis XIV Bonnetiere

 

Difference Between European Antiques & Antiques from Antique Malls

You may have visited an antique dealer or antique mall or two and wondered how the pieces vary between the two types of sellers. Differences can typically be tied to where the piece originated, especially in regards to how it is constructed. The authenticity and prices of pieces can also vary between malls and dealers.

Types of Items

The types of items you may find in an antique mall vary considerably depending on the mall and vendor. Because the items sold in malls are from estate sales, auctions, and flea markets, you will see a wide range of prices; some items will be higher-end while other pieces will be what many would consider bargain items. Vendors often keep a stock of numerous smaller and cheaper items in their stalls; you will occasionally see booths with more of the higher-priced pieces, but these types of items are more commonly found at dealers’ shops.

Items that you are likely to find in antique malls include furniture, jewelry, clothing, books, etc. if you choose to shop at one of these malls, be mindful that not all items sold are considered to be authentic antiques. For example, the Southside Antique Mall vendors often sell vintage items from the 1950s; while these items are over sixty years old, they aren’t considered antique, which will likely affect the price you are willing to pay for them.

Origin

One of the biggest factors to keep in mind when comparing antiques from a mall to the antiques filling many dealers’ shops is that the antique mall pieces are often American-made and of lesser value. European and American antiques are actually fairly similar in style; Americans would copy the styles that became popular in Europe, but the difference between the two is often in the antique’s furniture construction.

You can see the extra care and craftsmanship put into a piece by European furniture makers; they had a more established and wealthy clientele. European furniture was typically placed in homes that were often far more formal than American homes of the same period. American antiques are missing some of the subtleties of European antique furniture. As a result, features typically present only in English antiques include dusters between drawer cavities and beveled panels in the framing.

The presence and absence of certain features are not the only distinction between European and American antiques. The designs of American furniture may reflect European styles, but American furniture makers didn’t have access to the same resources so they had to create some unique styles of their own. American furniture in general was simpler than European pieces with smaller sizes, quieter tastes, and less decoration. Vertical pieces combined with fewer carvings established a more American style. In addition, American-made dovetails were fatter than the fine, narrow dovetails of English furniture.

The types of wood used also varied between America and England. Furniture makers used cheaper, local trees for a piece’s secondary wood. In England, this was commonly oak while American secondary wood consisted of poplar, yellow pine, or white pine. Black walnut was a common primary wood for American antiques; English furniture makers used mahogany or walnut.

It’s important to keep in mind that the origin doesn’t automatically determine the value of a piece. Many times how rare a piece is creates a higher value than where a piece was made. Because American pieces are often rare, they will sell for a higher price than a similar European piece even if they are of comparable quality.

Antiques through the Ages: Early 17th Century (Part I)

Antiques through the Ages is a guide to walk you through how the styles of furniture have changed over the years in Europe.  In the first installment of this guide, we’ll cover three style periods from the early 1600s: Early Jacobean, Cromwellian/Commonwealth, and Louis XIII.

Early Jacobean (1603 – 1648)

The Jacobean period can be divided into three main styles, starting with Early Jacobean, which coincides with the reigns of King James I and King Charles I. The styles of the preceding Elizabethan period were still influential, but Jacobean furniture used less ornamentation and was considered a quieter style. Common characteristics of early Jacobean were scrolls, columns, arches, and mortise-and-tenon joints. Furniture was massive, rectangular, and sturdy, and the popular use of oak resulted in Jacobean furniture being built to last. Carvings from early in the period were simple and sometimes gilded. Comfort was not a high priority during this period so many pieces are known for being extremely uncomfortable.

One of the popular forms introduced during the early Jacobean period was the Farthingale chair. It was designed specifically for women who wore farthingales under their skirts; chair arms were removed, and the chairs had a low, padded back. However, chairs were still considered reserved for the high-ranking members of society so they weren’t produced in large numbers.

Cromwellian/Commonwealth (1648 – 1660)

During the second part of the Jacobean Period, the influence of Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth resulted in a very plain style; designers emphasized function above all else. The strict Puritan beliefs were so intertwined with the furniture design that trends in other countries during this time did little to influence the Cromwellian style. Puritans discouraged over-the-top decoration, resulting in the decline of carvings and ornamentation. With carving virtually nonexistent, moldings were applied rather than carved. The use of upholstery—with the exception of leather—also declined because it was viewed as a luxury. The Puritans elevated the uncomfortable styles of the early Jacobean period; their religious beliefs called for personal discomfort, resulting in furniture being more uncomfortable than ever before.

The Cromwellian style preserved a few of the central principles of the early Jacobean furniture. Furniture was still quite bulky, and the continued use of oak maintained the furniture’s durability. During this period, cheaper woods, such as elm and chestnut, were also used. Early Jacobean wasn’t one of the more ornate styles, but Cromwellian furniture utilized even less decoration.

Check out these Beauchamp pieces made in the Jacobean style:

Pair of antique Jacobean arm chairs A5453A jacobean-stoolCustom English Jacobean style side draw leaf table in oak.

Jacobean Arm ChairsJacobean Bench/StoolJacobean Side Draw Leaf Table

 

Louis XIII (1589 – 1661)

While Louis XIII’s reign began in 1610 and ended with his death in 1643, the corresponding furniture style continued for another eighteen years. The Louis XIII style was popular in France around the same time that the Jacobean period started to develop in England. The Louis XIII style was the first of four Louis periods and considered to be more primitive and less bold than the other three periods. The Louis XIII style can be identified by the turnery of the legs and its simple shapes.

While the first two Jacobean styles emphasized utility and as a result, typically had a plainer style, Louis XIII featured more elaborate carvings and had a greater emphasis on comfort. Furniture makers frequently incorporated geometric designs into the carvings. During this time in France, people expected furniture to be both comfortable and beautiful so this period saw the introduction of fixed upholstery and more lavish design. These designs included scrolls, fruit, and flowers. Like the early Jacobean style, Louis XIII furniture had a massive presence and frequently used oak.

A greater demand for furniture during this time was driven by the middle class. The development of a French country style allowed the bourgeois living outside of Paris to have nice furniture. This style reflected the trends of furniture from Paris but was adjusted to match the country lifestyle; one of the main pieces was the trestle table.

These Beauchamp pieces reflect the Louis XIII style:

Mid 19th century French Louis XIII style buffet with fish and game carvings in oak, circa 1870.

 louis-xiii-chair louis-xiii-chairs
Louis XIII Carved Oak BuffetLouis XIII Arm Chair

Louis XIII Arm Chairs

 

How to Tell the Difference Between an Antique & Reproduction

19th century French Empire commode in cherry with bronze pulls, circa 1870.
Pair of marble top night stands A5587A

The value of antique furniture is greatly determined by its authenticity. It’s important to make sure that the item you’re interested in is the real deal and not just a reproduction made to look like an antique. We offer a few tips on things to look for when shopping for antique furniture.

Type of Wood Used

The wood furniture is made from can provide a significant amount of information to distinguish between an antique and reproduction. Furniture makers from earlier time periods typically used multiple types of wood in each piece because of the high cost to use expensive woods. Check areas of the furniture that aren’t usually seen, such as the back and drawer interiors, for secondary wood. If they have the same wood as the rest of the piece or manufactured wood, such as press board or plywood, it’s probably not an antique. Early furniture makers would typically use more common woods for these sections.

Condition of the Wood

A few signs that furniture is newer include consistent color, lack of patina, machine-cut moldings/carvings, and modern screws or nails. Things like mortise-and-tenon joints, wood pegs, hand-cut dovetails, and rose head nails are typically found in antique furniture. However, keep in mind that manufacturers may use older nails or wood in a reproduction to make the piece look like an antique.

Wooden furniture shows signs of age through shrinkage of the wood, splits, and seam separation (Craddock, 2016). Wood shrinks across the grain—but not with it—so an antique circular table will not have a perfectly round shape (Ross, 2009). If it does, it’s likely a reproduction or someone replaced the tabletop.

The veneer of an antique and reproduction may also vary. Since about 1900, veneers have become thinner (Henderson, 2015). The earlier furniture makers utilized wider boards with the thicker veneer.

Natural Materials

The materials used in upholstery were natural until the 1920s when synthetic fibers first made an appearance (Blavin, 2010). You will typically find an antique with original upholstery stuffed with horsehair and other natural material.

Signs of Wear and Age: Are They Real or Manufactured?

While reproductions are often made to look older than they are, you can still discern the differences between the looks of aging. Reproductions tend to have consistent signs of wear. Authentic antiques, on the other hand, will have varying degrees of wear due to years of use. For example, the underside of a chair arm should not look like it has the same level of wear as the area where your hands typically rest (Blavin, 2010). Another place to look for signs of wear is under the feet. Drawer runners should also be showing signs of age from the drawers being opened many times (DIY Network).

Asymmetry & Irregularity

Antique pieces aren’t going to be perfectly symmetrical because they were made by hand rather than with machines; slight changes in size or shape will help you know that the piece was handmade (Bilis, 2016). Carvings aren’t going to be perfectly symmetrical either; craftsmanship done by hand will have some imperfections (Blavin, 2010).

While irregularity isn’t normally considered to be a good sign, it’s a key factor for antiques. Dovetail joints and older screws do not have a perfect shape when they’ve been made by hand for an antique piece. If a dovetail joint has perfect lines and edges, the piece is more than likely made by a machine (Bilis, 2016). In the images below, you can see that the machine-made joints are more uniform than the hand-cut joint. Antique furniture made with hand planes, saws, and chisels will have surfaces that are going to feel slightly uneven while the surfaces of more recently made furniture will be smoother.

 by jabenaki, on Flickr
Draw Boxes by P.Flint, on Flickr
 “Draw Boxes” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by P.Flint

 

Patina

One of the biggest factors is the patina, which is the layers of polish, wax, dust, etc. that are found on surfaces (Henderson, 2015). This is one of the hardest things to fake, but furniture manufacturers may try to imitate patina through heavy staining. If you look at parts that aren’t intended to be seen, such as underneath a table, a true antique should have raw wood that doesn’t have any signs of staining (Chatelaine’s Antiques and Appraisals Magazine).

Things to Keep in Mind

These signs don’t always guarantee that a piece of furniture is antique or modern-made. For example, an antique chair may be reupholstered so it’s no longer stuffed with natural materials. While this means the antique is no longer in its original condition, the chair is still considered to be an antique even though the value may be slightly different. The same principle applies to other types of restoration.

Reproductions are made in the style of earlier periods, but the furniture makers don’t intend to trick customers into believing the piece is older than it is. Typically, the manufacturer will add a label that details when and where it was produced. On the other hand, a fake is intended to be mistaken for the real deal so still keep an eye out for the differences described above.

 

References

Bilis, M. (2016). Five Ways to Tell if Furniture is Actually Antique. Retrieved from Boston Magazine: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/property/blog/2016/03/25/how-to-tell-furniture-antique/

Blavin, S. M. (2010). How to Tell Real Antique Furniture From Reproductions. Retrieved from Apartment Therapy: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-distingu-127076

Chatelaine’s Antiques and Appraisals Magazine. (n.d.). Fake and Reproduction Furniture. Retrieved from http://antiques-art-collectibles.com/collectible/furniture/fake_furniture.html

Craddock, D. (2016). What is the Difference Between Reproduction & Antique Furniture? Retrieved from Velvet and Honey: http://www.velvetandhoney.com/blog-unique-furniture-and-homewares-perth/2016/4/26/what-is-the-difference-between-reproduction-antique-furniture

DIY Network. (n.d.). Tips on Distinguishing a True Antique From a Reproduction. Retrieved from http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/make-and-decorate/decorating/tips-on-distinguishing-a-true-antique-from-a-reproduction

Henderson, A. (2015). How to tell the Difference between Reproduction and Antique Furniture. Retrieved from Maple Leaf Restoration: http://mapleleafrestoration.co.uk/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-reproduction-and-antique-furniture/

Oakley, B. (2011). 1 easy way how to tell a reproduction piece of furniture from a real antique. Retrieved from Oakley Restoration & Finishing: http://www.oakleyrestoration.com/1-easy-way-how-to-tell-a-reproduction-piece-of-furniture-from-a-real-antique/

Ross, J. G. (2009). How to Discern a Fake Antique. Retrieved from Chubb Collectors: http://www.chubbcollectors.com/real-deal

 

Integrating Antique and Modern Design: How to Create an Eclectic Look

dining-room

Whether you’re looking to bring an updated look to your traditionally-styled home or to add your personality to a modern style, we’ll walk you through a few tips and tricks for seamlessly mixing traditional and modern pieces without anything looking like it doesn’t belong.

Contrast & Proportion

Contrast and proportion go hand in hand. You don’t want to have everything of the same style, but you should have one style be the main focus. Then you can contrast with a few pieces of the other style. In terms of proportions, you want to make sure the size and shape of the furniture you have selected don’t overwhelm the room (Cb, 2011). Does the piece blend well with the rest of the room? Or is the size significantly different from anything else around it?

There are several things you can do to contrast these two styles in any room. If you have a room that is mostly modern, consider a few antique pieces that have significant detail to balance out the sleekness of the rest of the room (Hollis). Adding a lamp is a relatively easy way to add some contrast as well. A modern lamp can update the style of an antique table just as a modern table can take on a more classic look with a traditional lamp. Another option is to contrast straight lines with curves. If you have modern, linear furniture, add a round antique table to contrast those lines (Kristen Rivoli Interior Design). To make the room look like it’s been collected over time, choose a variety of time periods for your antique pieces (How to Mix Old and New–Transcend Time Periods).

Updated Look

Antique furniture can be tricky to match with a modern design. One fix for making sure that perfect piece blends in with the rest of the room is to give it an updated look. For example, you can replace the upholstery with something more modern, such as bright colors (Design House).

Color

There a few directions you can go in terms of color for an eclectic room. If you’re worried that your antique pieces won’t mesh well with anything modern or vice versa, stick to a color palette when selecting your furniture for a room (Jizhar). Having something common among all of the pieces, such as a similar color scheme, will help tie the room together despite having a mix of different styles.

As mentioned earlier, bright colors can update an antique piece so that it blends aspects of both traditional and modern. This can be done for a chair, a sofa, or even kitchen cabinets. Adding in these bright colors prevents dark furniture from making the room look out-of-date (Element Studios). However, if having bright colors isn’t your style, you can choose a neutral color palette—shades of white, brown, gray, etc.—and still get a put-together room with both styles (Hohenadel, 2012).

Sample Pairings

To help you get started on creating your own personal mix of traditional and new, here are a few common pairings:

  • An antique lamp and new lampshade with modern table (Preiser, 2016)
  • Modern lighting with traditional furniture framing (Flat 15, 2015)
  • Traditional dining table with modern chairs (Mitchell, 2014)
  • Textile pillows with new comforter (Preiser, 2016)
  • Farmhouse table with modern room design (The Cousins)
  • Traditional chandelier with modern room design (Flat 15, 2015)
  • Straight lines with curves (Kristen Rivoli Interior Design)

Check out this Houzz ideabook for pictures of sample pairings!

 

No matter what pieces you decide to purchase, make sure that they appeal to your style and personality. If you find a chair, a table, or a couch that you don’t really like, don’t buy it just because it’s an antique or modern style. Not all of the tips above will work for everyone; if you aren’t into bright colors, choose one of the other tips for balancing the room so that it reflects your own style.

 

References

Cb, A. (2011). Can You Mix Antique Furniture with Modern Furniture? Retrieved from Savvy Examiner: http://savvyexaminer.com/interior-design-trends/can-you-mix-antique-furniture-with-modern-furniture/

Design House. (n.d.). Antique Modern Mix Home Design Ideas–Blue and Pink Bedroom. Retrieved from Houzz: http://www.houzz.com/antique-modern-mix

Element Studios. (n.d.). Antique Modern Mix Home Design Ideas–urban warehouse flat. Retrieved from Houzz: http://www.houzz.com/antique-modern-mix

Flat 15. (2015, July 30). Mixing Antique + Contemporary Decor. Retrieved from Flat 15: http://flat15.com/2015/07/30/mixing-antique-and-contemporary-decor/

Hohenadel, K. (2012). How to Mix Old and New Decor. Retrieved from Lonny: http://www.lonny.com/Design+Inspiration/articles/i3ywDXn0gn8/How+to+Mix+Old+and+New+Decor

Hollis, N. (n.d.). Antique Modern Mix Home Design Ideas–Pacific Heights Residence. Retrieved from Houzz: http://www.houzz.com/antique-modern-mix

How to Mix Old and New–Transcend Time Periods. (n.d.). Retrieved from My Home Ideas: http://www.myhomeideas.com/decorating/design-ideas/mixing-design-styles/transcend-time-periods

Jizhar, N. (n.d.). Antique Modern Mix Home Design Ideas–Living Room. Retrieved from Houzz : http://www.houzz.com/antique-modern-mix

Kristen Rivoli Interior Design. (n.d.). Antique Modern Mix Home Design Ideas–A mix of old and new to create a comfortable living area. Retrieved from Houzz: http://www.houzz.com/antique-modern-mix

Mitchell, N. (2014). The Modern Mix: 10 Ways to Work Vintage Pieces into Modern Interiors. Retrieved from Apartment Therapy: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-modern-mix-10-ways-to-work-vintage-pieces-into-modern-interiors-213405

Preiser, A. (2016, April 2). How to Mix Contemporary and Antique Furniture Like a Pro. Retrieved from Architectural Digest: http://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/big-daddys-antiques-pottery-barn-antique-furniture-tips

The Cousins. (n.d.). Antique Modern Mix Home Design Ideas–Alterman. Retrieved from Houzz: http://www.houzz.com/antique-modern-mix

 

 

19th Century Antiques: Empire Styles

Empire styles, beginning with Napoleon Bonaparte’s First French Empire, was a particularly influential aesthetic throughout Europe and America for much of the 19th Century. The style’s creators wanted to instill pride in the French people for their state and leader, meshing a spread of Greek and Roman details with a simpler aesthetic, neither over-the-top nor strict and austere. It was this combination of richness and modesty that carried into other styles of the day, and later styles of the century.

Antique French Empire Style Antique Buffet With Marble Top front view

Empire Style: 1800 – 1820 
Continue reading “19th Century Antiques: Empire Styles” »

Including Antiques in Today’s Interior Design

Antiques offer many opportunities to bring a unique look to the interior design schemes of today. The features found in the many styles of European antiques bring visual interest to a space, and certainly stand out as conversation pieces when guests arrive. The design and craftsmanship of antique furniture and antique accessories is difficult to match in those made in more recent times. While we would love for you to include only antiques when decorating your home, adding just a few can elevate the whole look. Below we offer some lovely examples of how our clients have included antiques in today’s interior design scheme.

Antiques in modern design

These homeowners were keen to create a warm and welcoming French-inspired look to their new home. Architectural detail was also at the top of their wish list, and their builder and interior designer took every opportunity to make those additions. The wide nooks created to flank the custom fireplace mantle were the perfect spots for antique bureaus, which provided display surfaces for pieces of their antique Imari porcelain collection. The older pieces are paired well with new custom furniture, bringing a richness to the light and airy space.
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Antiques Make Great Last Minute Holiday Gifts

Antiques are the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list. Who doesn’t like a one-of-a-kind item to add to their collection or home décor? Buying for a Francophile, Antique toy collector or lover of unique accessories? Below we offer just a just a few suggestions from our shop, but you can view our whole inventory on our website.

A4674A1

Pair of Antique Polychromed French Side Tables

Perfect for someone who adores the French country style, these lovely Louis 15th style side tables are crafted out of carved wood and feature polychrome detailing throughout. Country farm themes have been painted on the tabletops, each with its own pastoral scene. Yellow, dark olive green and gold hues have been applied to the pieces, giving them a warm, comfortable look. Circa 1920, these antique side tables would have been built to sit next a sofa or chairs. Today, they could serve the same purpose, or as a unique accessory for a living room or master closet.

Continue reading “Antiques Make Great Last Minute Holiday Gifts” »