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Furniture > American > Antique > Beds > Empire

American Empire Beds

In comparison to the Phyfe beds and other Sheraton inspired work of the early 19th century the antique beds of the American Empire period, 1820 to 1840, were often as least as finely executed and of the same high artistic merit. Among the better examples we find much pineapple and acanthus carving on the bed posts, in addition to various forms of turning such as fluted and rope. Empire style headboards were often graced with curved volutes at the top corners. When the posts were of full height they were topped with an often decorative tester to hang drapery from. Sometimes though posts were of only half height, and increasingly, the very low posted bed became popular.

One major trend to be found in Empire beds is the tendency for very thick posts and side rails, sometimes of four to five square inches. Most of these were of the low-poster variety and they strike some as clumsy things. At their best however they have a simple, quiet dignity.

Among the more elaborate antiques to be found there is a great amount of ornamentation, often of the ring or vase turning type on the half high posts. Carving is especially prominent on the low post beds.

The low post beds of the Empire eventually evolved into the type known as spool beds, a factory product of little value.

Another product of the Empire furniture heritage were wooden sleigh beds, as our story continues.

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