American Furniture By E. T. Joy

Salem secretary:

Salem, Massachusetts, variant of Sheraton's secretary with a china cabinet top; also, by extension, a Salem sideboard with a china cabinet top (c. 1800-20).

Sawbuck table:

a table with an X-shaped frame either plain or scrolled. Frequently found in rural New England and in Penn¬sylvania German examples.

Scroll top:

when the broken-arch of a pediment is curved it is called a scroll top. Used on many American highboys, chests-on-chests, etc; various curves occur. Collo¬quial terms picturesquely describing the scroll top are goose-neck, swan-neck, etc.

Scrutoire Escritoire:

eighteenth-century American term for an enclosed writing-desk, often with a cabinet top. Lockwood differ¬entiates three varieties: fall front, slant top with ball feet, and slant top with turned legs. In England, called a bureau or bureau-bookcase.


modern word for an enclosed writing-desk with a cabinet top; a 'scrutoire (q.v.).


in America a long seat with a high, upholstered back, or a similar seat with two or more chair backs which are not uphol¬stered; used c. 1700-1800. Also a backless long seat in the French Directory or Empire styles, c. 1800-30. Not to be confused with a sofa. In America a sofa has a longer seat, a lower back, and is upholstered.


a chest with a high back, and with arms at the sides, used as a seat; generally placed near the fireplace or in the kitchen (c. 1650-1760).


small, elegant work-table for women, usually of mahogany. It generally has drawers or a lid top and is fitted with sewing compartments and, often, a cloth pouch hanging underneath. Extremely popu¬lar from about 1790 to 1840. Duncan Phyfe made many of them in Empire styles.

Shaker furniture:

a whole range of furniture - chairs, tables, chests of drawers -made by early nineteenth-century Shakers, a celibate sect. This furniture, while pro¬vincial, is of such sheer simplicity, so pure in line, so lean and functional in form, so well proportioned and soundly constructed, that it is much prized today. Usually in pine, maple, walnut or fruit woods. Shearer, Thomas: English furniture designer whose drawings, first published in his Cabinet Maker's London Book of Prices, 1788, influenced many American cabinet¬makers from 1790 to 1810, though the credit has to this day gone to his contemporaries, Hepplewhite and Sheraton, both of whom took many a leaf from Shearer's book (see Sideboard).


the sideboard, as now known, was introduced into America about 1790. By 1800 it appeared in every American home of distinction. The usual form was the curved, especially serpentine, front seemingly originated by Thomas Shearer, though Hepplewhite has been given the credit for it. The American sideboard tends to be more vertically slender than the English, and less ornamented.

Slant-front desk:

a frame or chest of drawers with a top section as an enclosed desk for writing, the hinged lid sloping at a 45 degrees - angle when closed. Galled in England a bureau.


simple seventeenth- and eighteenth-century chair of turned posts and stretchers with a "back of horizontal slats generally curved for comfort (Fig. 16). Two major types are differentiated: the Pennsylvania plain and the New England slightly ornamented turnings. Often in maple. Some students suggest it as a source of the elegant eighteenth - century ladder-back chair.

Sleigh bed:

American French Empire bed somewhat resembling a sleigh.

Sofa table:

small, narrow, rectangular table with two front drawers in the apron and hinged leaves at each end; the under-frame of two legs at each end, or graceful bracket supports connected by a stretcher. First made in America about 1800 from Sheraton's designs. Duncan Phyfe developed several fine variants. Popular until......

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Antiques For Sale

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.



Philip Burke has been involved in restoration work for a number of years dealing with all aspects of antique furniture restoration and conservation

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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