Periods and Styles


Periods and styles.

It is quite common to classify an antique's age by historic period, referring often to the ruling monarch at the time, which tends to inspire 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. Thick decorative  veneers and cross grain mouldings, rococo styles. Few surviving due to walnut being vulnerable to woodworm attack..
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

Although there are many knowledgeable members of the 'antiques' trades, do beware that quite a few have had no formal training in furniture history/construction or timber identification,  and can often misidentify items. Perhaps more importantly do not trust auction room descriptions to be completely accurate, their job is to sell an item for as much as possible and so lot descriptions are often vague. If you want to be confident in your purchase then buy from a reputable established dealer. A professional restorers opinion is  also valuable, they should have a good knowledge of furniture history , they can recognise the tell tale signs of previous work from a craftsman point of view, and will tend to have a better understanding of construction techniques and timber identification than a dealer.