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Dating Furniture Designs

        Designs of English chairbacks
BORN 5th June 1718, Otley, Yorkshire, England
DIED November 1779, London

Thomas Chippendale´s "Gentleman and Cabinet Maker´s Director", published in three editions (1754, 1755 and1762) had a major influence on mid-18thC. Chair design. In as much as he applied popular Rocco, Chinoiserie and Gothic design motifs to already fashionable shapes for both grand and simple household furniture.

Few designs were copied exactly. Chair makers at all levels - London, provincial and country adapted and modified their designs to suit their own skills, and their customers tastes and pockets.

Country versions are instantly identifiable when made in woods other than Mahogany. Often less well proportioned, much simpler in design with splats with little or no carving.
The methods employed by London makers of the mid-18thC. set the standards for virtually all wood chair manufacturers until the present day. More reproductions have been made of mid-18thC chairs than any other period.
Victorian reproductions were either rather clumsy or with over done ornate carving with thin cabriole legs ending in heavy ball and claw feet. Generally not so refined as the classical 18thC originals.

Modern reproductions tend to be smaller and narrower than the originals enabling them to fit in with the smaller dining rooms of today´s houses. A noticeable point when looking at a genuine 18thC chair is the generous size of the seat, it´s much wider than today´s reproductions.

Another way of dating furniture is by looking at the design of the legs and feet of tables, chairs etc. from the "cup and cover" of the Elizabethan furniture, most notable on the four poster and tester beds of the period, to the sweeping shape of the sabre legs from the Regency period.

Bracket and Bun feet are also a useful indicator of a period, when found on Chests of various designs.

All types of handle designs were used to decorate further, pieces of furniture such as drawers, doors etc. Usually in brass attached with bolts and circular nuts (fitted with a special tool) until about 1770; after that they became square.

Some early pieces still with bail handles with pierced backplates, but generally after 1740, simple swan-neck designs were common, with two separate circular and variously decorated roses.

About 1780, oval or circular stamped or pressed brass handles were used, the loops following lower line of the plate.

Many of these designs are still reproduced today.

Traditional Handmade Furniture including Four Poster Beds from Solid Oak and Fruitwoods

Handmade Replica Antique Fittings for brass cabinet hardware and furniture fittings

If you would like advice on furniture designs , please get in touch by completing this short form.