American Furniture By E. T. Joy

chests, usually with a bottom drawer or two, and all but covered with fiat carving. Hand-somest are three more forceful forms: (i) Jacobean court cupboards, a kind of buffet, generally oak, adorned with applied and often ebonized wood panelling’s, mould-ings, bosses, spindles and bulbous or columnar supports; (2) press cupboards, very similar cupboards in which the lower section is closed with doors or made as a chest of drawers for holding linens, etc (Plate 37); and (3) separate chests of drawers likewise much ornamented with mouldings, bosses and panelling’s.

Among American Jacobean tables are dining boards on trestles or plain frames and, for other rooms, stout smaller tables on four legs generally connected by sturdy stretchers. Often the legs and stretchers are spiral-twisted for the sake of ornament, or lathe-turned in the shape of balls, knobs, etc. Similar legs and stretchers are generally found on the most popular table in seventeenth-century America, the gate-leg. American chairs in the Jacobean manner may be divided into three groups: three-legged arm-chairs, plain or carved wainscot chairs, and 'Dutch' type arm chairs made of posts and spindles. Americans subdivide the latter kind into Carver chairs, with one row of vertical spindles in the back, and Brewster chairs, with two rows. These are names of Pilgrim Fathers who are said to , have brought them over in the Mayflower. A later chair, quite the most luxurious made in seventeenth-century America, is the high-back cane chair, boldly turned and scroll-carved, the so-called "Charles the Second" chair. A few day-beds of this luxurious 'Caro lean' type also have survived.

William and Mary: after Queen Mary and her Dutch husband, William of Orange, came to the throne in 1689, a Dutch-influenced style of furniture gradually began to appear in England. Examples of it reached America just before the beginning of the eighteenth century and started a new fashion there, a number of cabinet-makers being skilled enough to adapt the new style admir-ably to American use. Americans liked this furniture in the William and Mary style.

They found it less ponderously heavy and bulky than the Jacobean, and therefore better suited to their small houses. They liked its decorativeness, its pleasant inlays, its marquetry work. That they also liked the few lacquered pieces which reached them is indicated by several surviving examples of quaintly simulated American lacquering. This lacquering, then called japanning, was practised from about 1712 up to the time of the Revolution, and seems to have been done best by a group of Boston workmen.

American furniture based on the William and Mary style is definitely less massive and formal than English pieces, less imposing. It is often fine furniture none the less, the finest made in America up to 1720-5, unless we except 'Charles the Second5 chairs. Perhaps the most notable single development was the tall chest of drawers, evolved by setting five or six tiers of drawers on a stand high enough for the drawers to be opened without stooping down. The combination is modernly called a highboy, and when the stand is made as a separate piece of furniture, a sort of dressing-table with drawers, it is called a lowboy. By the addition of other features, highboys and lowboys became unique American designs. Those in the style of William and Mary were mostly of walnut or walnut veneer, the stand on six tall legs with connecting stretchers and ball-shaped feet, making for an attractive silhouette, doubly so because the stretchers were curved and the six legs prettily turned in the shape of inverted cups, trumpets or balls-and-cones. Among other developments of the William and Mary style perhaps the most widely enjoyed in America was the cabriole leg.

Queen Anne: the Dutch influence intro-duced into England by William and Mary transformed English furniture in the reign of her sister and successor, Queen Anne (1702-14). The transformation was from large to smaller furniture and from fairly stiff and formal lines to lovely curves, the happiest change in English furniture in hundreds of years. Furthering this air of grace, a touch of carving, notably the scallop shell, was added. The style of Queen Anne seems not to have reached America until

Prevoius Page.

Next Page....

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."


The Workshop

Based in the heart of Kensington, Philip Burke is in the ideal location for servicing clients from around the London area's. If you require a home visit or just want some advice on your antique furniture please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Request Call Back

Please Enter a phone number followed by the submit button to request a call back

Contact Info
an image
Philip Burke.
2B Russell Garden Mews,
W14 8EU.

Phone: 0207 603 1100
fireplace design guide  Slow cooker recipes  antiques value  ASK THE PLUMBER  Office Cleaning Services  Free Backlinks   SEO Specialist Bournemouth