American Antique Furniture
The course of antique furniture history in America largely mirrors that of the English furniture tradition, and to some extent, events in Holland and France, and in order to fully appreciate the American contribution to furniture design in colonial and later historical times it will likely be found necessary to return now and again to the source, England, and follow developments there.
This is due to the fact that while colonial decoration and furnishing is distinct and recognisable, the United States did not develop a characteristic national style. The influence of England and France on the taste of the old colony moulded the work of American craftsmen, who were as skilled and thorough as their English contemporaries, but, apart from Nicholas Disbrowe and Duncan Phyfe, there are few names that stand out.
The development of American taste in the eighteenth century was directed by Europe, and even after achieving independence, English and French tastes in furniture still predominated. However, if we can find a main difference, it is that American antique furniture was made with practical concerns at the fore, decorative details and finery trailing behind in importance.
Major American Antique Periods
The periods of American furniture can be divided into two halves, the Colonial and the Federal.
In our broad guide through early American furniture we note the major trends in early antique American furniture history as well as deal with the major types of furniture, with pictures, in colonial times, often called the Jacobean period.
Following independence we enter the Federal period which can be divided into three broad periods, the early Federal period, when the designs of Hepplewhite, Shearer, and Sheraton predominate, and the American Empire time when French inspired furniture comes to the fore.
After these classic antique periods we meet with American Victorian furniture.