American Furniture By E. T. Joy

they had uses. Perhaps the best name to group them under is breakfast table.

Brewster chair:

modern term for an early seventeenth-century Dutch type arm-chair made of turned posts and spindles. A handsomer variety of the Carver chair (q.v.). It has two tiers of four spindles in the back, a similar tier under the arms and, occasionally, two or more tiers under the seat at the sides (Fig. 4). Usually of ash or maple with rush seats. Named for William Brewster, first leader of the Plymouth colony pilgrims, who is said to have brought one to America with him in 1620 in the Mayflower. Popular to the end of the seven-teenth century. Earliest surviving examples perhaps about 1650.

Broken arch:

see Scroll top.

Bull's eye:

popular term for a smallish round mirror of concave or, more often, convex glass in an ornate round frame. When candle brackets are attached to the frame, it is generally called a girandole mirror. Many of these bull's eye mirrors are of English or French rather than American make. They were highly fashionable about 1800-20.


in America, ever since the eighteenth century, the word bureau means a chest of drawers, with or without a mirror, and regularly used in the bedroom (Fig. 5). Originally, and still in England, a desk. Examples were made in the William and Mary style, dating 1700-10, but the form dropped completely out of use until revived about 1750. They are found in the Chippen- dale and every style thereafter, the revival probably springing not from the earlier form but from Chippendale's designs. Many authorities describe bureaux according to the shape of the front - serpentine, reverse ser-pentine, bow or swell, and straight front - but that is mere grouping not classification proper.

Bureau table:

a dressing-table of the Goddard-Townsend flat-top, knee-hole desk type. So named by them (Plate 416).


a tree knot or protruding growth which shows beautifully patterned grain-ings when sliced. Used for inlay or veneer. Found in some late seventeenth- and much eighteenth-century American furniture, and chiefly in walnut and maple burls.

Butterfly table:

drop-leaf table with swinging supports resembling butterfly wings. Believed to be uniquely American. The legs are raked and stretchered so that the 'wings' can be pivoted in the stretchers. They date about 1700-25, the earliest usually maple (Plate 3QC).

Camel back:

colloquial term for a chair or sofa, such as Hepplewhite, with the top curved somewhat like the hump of a drome-dary (Fig. 6).

Cane chair:

a chair with the seat and often the back tightly woven of canes (rattans). First used in America about 1690-1700 in 'Charles II' style chairs; later, in the William and Mary and Queen Anne styles; again, almost a century later, in Sheraton and subsequent styles.


a fanciful scroll; used in America mostly as a central finial for the tops of Philadelphia Chippendale highboys, clocks and, occasionally, mirrors.

Carver chair:

modern term for an early seventeenth-century 'Dutch' type arm chair made of turned posts and spindles. It has three rails and three spindles in the back

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Philip Burke has a wide range of 18th and 19th century English and continental antique furniture.

The different styles of antique furniture that comes in may only last a few days in the workshop before they are sold. If you require a piece of furniture not listed please call and we will do our best to cater for your needs.



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Antique furniture is not always beautiful and pristine--in fact, some of the most valuable pieces show wear and fading. Whether or not to restore antique furniture can be a complex question, but it also depends on the definition of "restore."


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