When we started in business over 12 years ago we were drawn to the furniture made between 1845 and 1915. This was such a dynamic time in the history of the United States. This era witnessed the westward expansion across the continent, rapid industrial growth, civil war, huge migrations of Irish, Italians, and Germans (including many skilled carvers and craftsmen that went to work in the furniture factories), the centennial celebration of 1876, the dawn of rapid mass transportation, and the rise of a very rich entrepreneurial class willing and able to spend lavishly on houses and their furnishings. The era ended with the First World War when suddenly America found out what had long been expected---it was indeed a major world power. All these trends and events influenced a thriving furniture business that was fiercely competitive, superb in quality, and uniquely American.
It never ceases to amaze us that when we go on buying trips throughout the Northeast we seldomly come across the same things. This makes dealing and collecting furniture from this era such a joy and treasure hunt. We are fortunate to be living in the area where the best of the this furniture was produced. Although companies in other locations like New Orleans and Cincinnati made fine furniture, the best and most refined pieces were made in New York and Philadelphia. The two general styles that were made between 1845 and 1915 are referred to as "Victorian" and "Turn-of-the-century". The former has many sub styles the most common being Rococo Revival, Renaissance Revival, Gothic Revival, Egyptian Revival, Aesthetic, and Eastlake. Although we sometimes carry pieces from each of these styles, the first two periods are a Southampton Antiques specialty. A brief description of each of the Victorian sub styles follows:
Rococo Revival (1845-1865): Furniture of the Rococo Revival period was usually made of walnut, mahogany, or rosewood. Parlor pieces seem to be the most available. Parlor tables, chairs, and sofas have cabriole legs and often feature naturalistic carvings of fruit, flowers, and leaves. The table tops are either turtle shaped, round, or oval. The foremost cabinetmaker of this period was John Henry Belter who used a technique of laminating the wood (primarily rosewood) to produce a curved yet durable surface. This process was copied by many of his contempories.
Other pieces of Rococo Revival furniture will also tend to have the naturalistic carvings. The fronts of dressers are oftentimes serpentine shaped and the corners are rounded. Leaf or fruit carved pulls decorate the drawers. The Rococo Revival style is very popular today and is reproduced. It's not difficult, however, to spot the reproduction. The carvings are much flatter and less detailed than the originals and the copies are never made out of black walnut or rosewood.
Renaissance Revival (1860-1880): The style was mostly produced out of walnut but mahogany, chestnut, and rosewood were also frequently used. Attributes of the Renaissance style are turned and fluted legs, raised or inset burled panels, heavily carved finials and crests, inset marble tops, and cookie cut corners. Many pieces are further decorated by black and gold incising, marquetry inlay, and bronze or brass mounts. John Jelliff of Newark, New Jersey was one of the more popular craftsmen of the Renaissance Revival furniture. His parlor sets featured carved heads on the arms and crest, with Sevres painted plaques sometimes in the crests. Many gargantuan pieces of this style were produced with some sideboards or beds exceeding 14' in height. The Renaissance Revival period reached its zenith at the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876 where many of the foremost furniture makers of the period exhibited their proudest accomplishments.
Turn-of-the-century: As it's name would suggest this period of furniture was made between the Spanish American war and World War I. With the sudden scarcity of black walnut and chestnut wood, furniture makers turned to oak as their medium. By cutting it in a special way (called quartering) sawmills of this time produced lumber that had a rich "tiger" type grain. (Because of the difficulty of this cutting method, few lumber yards today produce quartered oak). Borrowing from the prevalent art nouveau style, the better furniture companies made lovely pieces with shaped drawers, curved beveled mirrors, curved legs oftentimes ending in a claw foot, profuse swirly carving, and fancy turned spindles and columns. Drawer pulls were commonly made of fancy cast brass on the better pieces or sometimes pressed sheet brass on the more ordinary ones. While most collectors prize the oak from this period, mahogany was also used and was in fact usually more expensive than the oak when it was originally sold.
To all Visitors
This site has been developed not just to sell Antiques and Collectibles(of course it does some of that) rather it is to provide information about Antiques, Collectibles, artwork, art pottery, furniture types, furniture styles, jewelry, and militaria from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War. This site is all about information and history that is not readily available elsewhere on the Internet. We think West St Paul Antiques is one of the best Antique Malls in the State of Minnesota and we have been working hard to create that excellence for the last 25 years. We have expertise on Antiques & Collectibles and as we read and study about history and antiques we also strive to be historians. We will share that expertise with you and all the visitors to our site. Stop by and visit our Antique Mall in West St Paul, Minnesota.
Go to the top of each page of our website for the menu bar of categories. You will see a drop down menu appear for each category. Click a link to browse or click our Site Map and Categories to find your link.
This website contains, in various sections, portions of copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This material is used for educational purposes only and presented to provide understanding or give information for issues concerning the public as a whole. In accordance with U.S. Copyright Law Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. More Information
Information presented based on medical, news, government, and/or other web based articles or documents does not represent any medical recommendation or legal advice from myself or West Saint Paul Antiques. For specific information and advice on any condition or issue, you must consult a professional health care provider or legal advisor for direction.
I and West Saint Paul Antiques can not be responsible for information others may post on an external website linked here ~ or for websites which link to West Saint Paul Antiques. I would ask, however, that should you see something which you question or which seems incorrect or inappropriate, that you notify me immediately at email@example.com Also, I would very much appreciate being notified if you find links which do not work or other problems with the website itself. Thank You!
Please know that there is no copyright infringement intended with any part of this website ~ should you find something that belongs to you and proper credit has not been given (or if you simply wish for me to remove it),
just let me know and I will do so right away.
Website Terms and Condition of Use Agreement
also known as a 'terms of service agreement'
Me with your feedback on how I can Improve this website.