Category Archives: Antique Furniture

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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Deportment chairs – The original naughty step!

  Invented by Sir Astley Paston Cooper (1768-1841), a surgeon and anatomist, deportment chairs were designed to correct poor posture in children. It was considered dignified for a child to have upright posture, with a straight back and the head held high. It was believed this was important not only for discipline, but also medical …

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WELLINGTON CHESTS: A GUIDE

Amongst new stock this month is this William IV mahogany Wellington chest. Dating from around 1830, it’s constructed in lovely quality mahogany, and consists of eight drawers, fitted with original turned wooden knobs. Named after the 1st duke of Wellington, The Wellington chest is one of the most famous pieces of campaign furniture (furniture specifically …

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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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DIVIDE AND RUIN: HOW TO SPOT A ‘DIVORCE’ IN FURNITURE

  It is relatively frequent to see ‘marriages’ within furniture of the 18th & 19th centuries (read more on our blog post on marriages and how to avoid them here) and much has been written about how to spot when an item has been ‘made up’ from two or more existing components. Less often, however, …

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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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Overmantel or Overmantle??

For many years at Thakeham Furniture, we referred to the large (often gilt, often landscape format) mirrors, that hang or stand over fireplaces as ‘overmantle mirrors’… until someone told us this was wrong. The correct, Oxford English dictionary spelling is in fact ‘overmantel’. So that meant we had been calling the mantelpiece the wrong thing …

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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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