Thakeham Furniture

September 5, 2018

Antique Miniatures vs Apprentice pieces: What’s the difference?


Miniature Georgian mahogany chest of drawers

Here at Thakeham Furniture, we usually hold a stock of miniature antique furniture. Always popular, these charming pieces are often the subject of much discussion… why were they made? And for what purpose? People like to use the term ‘apprentice pieces’ when referring to these, but more often than not this isn’t the case. But what is an apprentice piece and why are they often confused with miniatures? Here we aim to answer these questions! …

George III miniature mahogany chest

The majority of miniature furniture are in fact sample pieces used by travelling salesmen. Workshops would send out salesmen on lengthy country-wide tours, with a miniature of each piece on his sales cart. This meant the cabinet maker could use the smaller form to show off his skills, without the salesman having to lug a full size piece of furniture wherever he went! Using exactly the same skills and techniques as used on the full sized pieces, the miniatures offered a fantastic way of potential buyers being able to get a feel of the quality of goods the workshop produced, before committing to a purchase… much better than a sketch in a catalogue!

A much smaller number of these miniatures are what was called ‘apprentice pieces’. Apprentice pieces, although again a scaled down version of the workshops’ offerings, were made by an often inexperienced apprentice. They were given lesser quality materials to work with and the craftsmanship was often less refined.

Miniature 19th century mahogany cheval mirror

Both miniatures and apprentice pieces are highly desirable and collectible antique items in today’s market. They are rarer than the real thing, and the charm and precise craftsmanship of these exquisite pieces is undeniable. These days they are often used as collectors’ chests and jewelry boxes etc., and make a wonderful gift!


To see our stock of miniature antique furniture and other smalls, please click here








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