A Concise Guide to Historical American Furniture

If you find yourself scouring the antique shops and swap-meets for fine, original American furniture pieces, you’ll no doubt have picked up on some fairly distinctive styles and forms; each of which will fit into a specific era in American history. And though a new solid oak ensemble from www.notationfurniture.co.uk might be more within most people’s price range, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a little history and context behind some of the great American furniture styles.

 

Early American Furniture

 

All furniture made in the United States between 1640 and 1700 is referred to as ‘Early American Furniture’, as it was some of the very first furniture to be produced by the recently settled British colonies. Despite being simple and sturdily made, pieces from this era are hard to come by in good condition.

 

Colonial Furniture

 

Named after the colonial period of the United States (1607 to 1783), Colonial furniture was produced from around 1700 to 1780, following directly after the era of Early American Furniture. Though it took some influence from the European furniture of the time, the distinguishing feature of Colonial pieces are their simplicity. Clearly this was part of an attempt on the United States’ part to distance themselves artistically from Europe, in the lead up to the post-colonial period.

 

Federal Style Furniture

 

Most popular between 1780 and 1820, the Federal Style of American furniture was unique for its time. Unlike the Early American and Colonial styles, Federal Furniture was generally constructed from much lighter materials, with a focus on sleek and thin build and an over-riding theme of straight lines, with minimal stylistic embellishments.

 

Shaker Style Furniture

 

The Shaker Style is very much reflective of those who developed it. Predominant in the years 1820-1860, this style was created by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (otherwise known as ‘The Shakers’). With values of simplicity, honesty and utility, it’s not hard to see where the stylistic inspiration for these pieces came from.

 

Victorian Furniture

 

Victorian furniture was certainly not unique to the United States (it was named after England’s Queen Victoria and was developed also in the United Kingdom). But it was certainly one of the most prevalent styles, meaning you’re likely to still find pieces from this era (1840-1910) today.

 

Dedication to Simplicity

 

Though many of the styles listed here will be above the average price range, it’s nonetheless pleasant to see a dedication to simple build quality throughout America’s many eras.