Periods and Styles



























Periods and styles.

It is quite common to classify an antique`s age by historic period, referring mainly to the ruling monarch at the time. Sometimes inspiring a bit more interest than just a numerical date, it can also help to put periods of history in convenient memorable chunks.

The past monarchs had more influence on popular styles and the prosperity of the people compared to more recent monarchs. But of course there are many influences on the styles, construction, materials and quality besides the monarch; such as renowned designers of the time (themselves usually influenced by their studies and travels) , religion, new technology, social activities,  immigrant craftsmen, access to imported timbers, development of trade guilds , studies in classical architecture, increased literacy, roads, canals and rail, and the industrial revolution.

The trade often refers to periods or particular monarchs or a particular century, or any kind of approximation or range of time depending on how certain they are of their dating.  But generally be careful not to confuse descriptions in terms of style with actual historical period, this should be made clear but occasionally is not. Earlier styles have been reproduced at much later dates, although even they can be highly desirable antiques.

Most furniture made from Oak.  Gothic and Baroque styles, fairly simple joined basic furniture.
Walnut now very popular. Decorative  veneers and mouldings, rococo styles. Few surviving due to woodworm liking walnut.
Mahogany now used very much. Neo-classical styles, much varied types of cabinet made furniture
Varied mix of styles and woods and quality
   1558-1603   Elizabethan  Elizabeth I
   1603-1625   Jacobean  James I
   1625-1649   Carolean  Charles I
   1649-1660   Cromwellian  Commonwealth
   1660-1689   Restoration  Charles II - 1685, James II
   1689-1702   William and Mary  William II & Mary II (died 1694)
   1702-1714   Queen Anne  Queen Anne
   1714-1760   Early Georgian  George I - 1727, George II
   1760-1811   Late Georgian  George III king until 1820
   1811-1830   Regency  George IV, regent-1820, then king
   1830-1837   William IV  William IV
   1837-1901   Victorian  Victoria
   1901-1910   Edwardian  Edward VII

Do beware that many in the trade are occasionally wrong in their identification. Frequently pieces are brought in for restoration that are not actually what they were described to be when bought. Don`t always trust auction room descriptions to be completely accurate, although many auctioneers are very experienced and knowledgeable sometimes it is not always possible for them to assess every lot in an auction in such detail, the odd piece may slip through, sometimes to your benefit and sometimes not. If  unsure most auctioneers will be happy to aid you in a closer examination. Also be very careful buying from online auctions. Buy from a reputable established dealer, if you can and if you are still not sure then seek an expert opinion. A professional restorers opinion is  valuable, they should have a comprehensive knowledge of furniture history , plus they can recognise the tell tale signs from a craftsman point of view.