Category Archives: Antique Furniture

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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5 important steps in caring for your antique furniture

Furniture made during the Georgian and Victorian periods was built to last! Joints were constructed and glued – not stapled or nailed together like modern pieces. Timber was properly seasoned, so is less likely to warp; and the finish applied, designed to resist marks, hardens over time. With a little care and thought, caring for …

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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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