A piece of furniture can be termed an “Antique” when its value mainly lies in its age, rarity, authenticity, and other special features that reflect the story of its era. There are various reasons why certain people tend to lean towards antique furniture, even in the current modern and futuristic epoch.
Because of the charm and raw beauty that these antique pieces flaunt, people favour decorating their homes with such antiquities to get a rustic and beautiful feel. Some people might prefer buying antique furniture as opposed to mass-produced furniture, as long-term investments because the value of antique furniture increases with time and changing trends. Many people also like buying Antique furniture, as it symbolises a culturally and economically rich standard of living. Some might like collecting antique furniture for its sentimental value. For example, one would hold on to a grandfather clock or a table set that has been in his family for several generations. Antiquities are of better quality and durability. They never go out of style as they have a character that tells us about their origin and authenticity.
There are two kinds of Antique furniture – A Period piece is the one that was made during the time that the design originally flourished, whereas a Style piece is a new product, but made using the same aesthetic features.
The most widely collected antique furniture kinds are the ones that originated from ancient Europe (mostly British), Asia, and America. These regions were marked by several artistic and stylist movements, works from which never fail to fascinate one.
The ancient European furniture was crafted using wood from mahogany, oak, and walnut trees. From the middle ages to the 19th century, Europe went through several stylistic, cultural, and artistic movements like the Jacobean period (1600-1690), Colonial (1700-1780), Arts and crafts movement(1880-1910), and Art Nouveau (1890-1910). The furniture from the Jacobean period exhibited a medieval aesthetic that included straight lines, durable construction, along detailed gothic etchings.
The colonial-style furniture was a less elaborated or a simplified version of the other styles that were prevalent during that period like Queen-Anne style, William and Mary style, etc.
In general, the arts and crafts style furniture was rectilinear in shape, with an emphasis on straight lines and elongated forms. The furniture that required fabric coverings (like sofas, armchairs, etc.), consisted of simple leather or plain tinted fabrics, without any floral or patterned prints. This minimalistic style boasted simplicity and sophistication, which is why people are tempted to collect valuables from this movement.
Another significant movement in the history of art, architecture, and furniture making was the Art Nouveau. The concept of this movement as a result of merging nature, design, and craftsmanship, which included extensive use of curved lines and organic forms. The term ‘Art Nouveau’ is French, translating to mean ‘new art.’ It originated in France and slowly began to spread across entire Europe by the beginning of the 20th century. The first thing that can be noticed in an example of Art Nouveau furniture is an elongated line that curls and snakes around a form to create an elegant and beautiful addition to the ornamentation of the item. The furniture was often made of materials like hardwood, especially walnut, oak, and teak. The antiquities from this era are of great importance, and people who are fascinated by this revolution in art, generally buy and collect this kind of furniture.
The ancient American styles of furniture-making involve the Early American Style (1640-1700), The Queen-Anne Style(1700-1755), The Pennsylvania Dutch (1720-1830), and the Shaker Style (1820-1860). The styles of Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau, and Art deco later became prevalent in America as well.
The Queen-Anne stylistic period witnessed furniture characterised by High chair backs, cabriole legs ending in a drake foot, and batwing drawer pulls. This style was one of the most authentic American styles of furniture.
In the Pennsylvania Dutch periodic style of furniture, the local and ‘country style’ of American furniture was seen. Pennsylvania Dutch items were made with German inspiration and often had colourful folk paintings on them.
Asian antique furniture, also known as Oriental furniture is known for being made from rare and exotic woods; like rosewood and bamboo. It encompasses the various kinds of ornamentations like colourful and elaborately decorated Chinese furniture, or the minimalistic kind of Japanese furniture like mats, wall hangings, etc. Japanese pieces also include iron-decorated chests called ‘Tansu’, which are some of the most coveted Japanese antiques. The varying cultures and traditions in this vast region have a huge impact on the variation in the furniture styles.
Asian antiquities reflect their history and culture and often exhibit the familiar naturalistic motifs seen in other Asian art forms. One of the most attractive features in this style of furniture is the intricate Lacquer work which makes it a highly valued relic and a must-have for enthusiastic antiquity collectors.