Author Archives: Belinda Chavasse

English Walnut: the Victorian Period

There are two periods of English furniture when walnut was the most popular cabinet timber. The first, known as the ‘Early Walnut’ period dates from 1680 to about 1740, or sometime during the reign of George II, when the newly imported mahogany began to gain in popularity. Much prized by cabinetmakers for its strength and …

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What is ‘Flame’ mahogany?

  The fork of a mahogany tree for “flame”, or the curly “burr” found near the roots of walnut trees, form especially beautiful grain. Wide planks of this type of wood tend to warp and curl, so the technique of veneering allows it to be glued to more stable wood with less attractive grain, for results that …

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What Is Ormolu?

  Ormolu mountings are fine quality cast mounts typical of French or ‘French style’ antique furniture.  They were also used for the decorative mountings of clocks, lighting devices, and porcelain. Ormolu (from French or moulu, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold to a mount cast …

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The Beauty of Early Walnut

  There are two periods of English furniture when walnut was the most popular cabinet timber. The first, known as the ‘Early Walnut’ period dates from 1680 to about 1740, or sometime during the reign of George II, when the newly imported mahogany began to gain in popularity. Much prized by cabinetmakers for its strength …

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Mahogany and the slave ships

  The ships which worked the slave and spice trade between England, Africa and the West Indies sometimes came back to England without a cargo; however, ballast was needed to keep the ship on an even keel, and this was made up of readily available mahogany tree trunks: Swietenia mahogani, also called Spanish or Cuban …

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Fine Furniture and Country Furniture – What’s the Difference?

  One of the questions we are frequently asked is: what exactly is “country” furniture – what does the term mean? Strictly speaking, it refers to furniture made by country craftsmen, varying from purely functional pieces made by amateurs to expertly constructed and carved work based on the fine furniture made for the rich. Much …

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The Unique Story of Yew Wood

  One of the world’s oldest surviving wooden artefacts is a yew spear head, found in 1911 at Clacton-on-sea, Essex. It is estimated to be 450,000 years old. Yew wood is reddish brown (with whiter sapwood), and is very springy; the entire tree is poisonous – wood, bark, needles and seed. It was traditionally used …

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A Guide to Regency Furniture

  As a furniture style, Regency has come to embrace a period from the 1790s to about 1830. Strictly, Regency means 1811-1820 which was the period the Prince of Wales (later George IV) acted as Regent during his father’s period of insanity. The Prince presided over the rebuilding of much of central London, with possibly …

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5 Reasons to Buy Antique Furniture

1. It’s good value Antique furniture is cheaper, in real terms, than it has been since the 1990s – most pieces have stayed roughly the same price for the last 15 years, while some, such as sets of dining chairs and the larger bits like tallboys and sideboards, have come well down in price. Antique …

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