Antique furniture is very popular the world over, and the fact that items made two hundred years ago are still in very good condition is a testament to the quality craftsmanship that tradesmen of their time possessed. Styles are defined by the time and indeed place, that an item was made, and with that in mind, here are some of the more well-known periods that produced fine antique furniture.
- The William and Mary Style (1690-1730) – Named after King William of Orange and his consort Mary, this style was very sturdy and practical, and European settlers took items of furniture to the new world, where they were replicated using native timbers, such as pine, walnut and maple. If you are looking for vintage antiques in Sydney, an online search will take you to the website of a respected dealer who might have items from this period.
- Queen Anne Period (1720-1760) – This distinct style is generally more delicate that the William & Mary style that preceded it, and the favoured timbers were maple, walnut, polar and cherry. Furniture feet of this period is generally round or oval shaped, and this period saw the arrival of the tilted tea table.
- Chippendale Period (1755-1790) – The Chippendale period is named after the famous English cabinet maker, Thomas Chippendale, who compiled a book that detailed furniture styles. Chippendale’s style was influenced by Roman and Gothic designs, with walnut, maple mahogany and cherry used extensively. Claw and ball feet became larger and more elaborate, and Chippendale’s book inspired many English and American cabinet makers of the time, who created new styles based on his designs.
- The Victorian Era (1830-1890) – Several distinct styles were popular during the reign of Queen Victoria, with sturdy, yet elegant pieces that were made from mahogany, walnut and cherry. Her love of ornate styles combined Gothic, Rococo and Elizabethan influences, and this was the time when the Industrial Revolution created wealthy business owners who loved to commission expensive items of furniture.
- Louis XVI Period (1850-1914) – This charismatic French king loved elaborate and complex carvings, and this period blended Victorian designs with the opulent, flowing style that Louis XVI was known for. The timbers used in this era were expensive, with ebony, rosewood and walnut popular choices, and finely painted tables and chairs of this period are very popular today.
- Art Nouveau Period (1896-1914) – The Paris Exposition of 1900 saw the arrival of Art Nouveau furniture, and while it was very elegant, it did not fit in with machine manufacturing that starting to flourish. The style did not catch on as well as it might, and the American market was not keen, neither were the British, however, Art Nouveau did receive a warm response from French aristocracy, thanks to the flowing lines and elaborate wood carvings.
- Art Deco Period (1920-1945) – The Art deco era saw bold designs with rich colours, crisp lines and controlled curves, and also introduced fine veneer and lacquered woods. Upholstery was generally smooth fabrics, with glass and steel also being used for the first time.
Whether you prefer the sturdiness of Victorian furniture, or the grandeur of the Louis XVI period, there are established antique dealers across Australia that have impressive catalogues of all the above styles, plus a few more besides. If you have the time and the inclination, touring flea markets and small antique shops should see many fine examples of the different types of antique and vintage lamps and candlesticks.