Thursday, April 12, 2012
Let’s Talk About Antiques – Part Deux
In yesterday’s blog, we discussed what antiques are (over 100 years old) and some possible places to find them. Today I’d like to expand on this by talking about a couple of considerations that will impact the look of your antiques. These are country of origin and the time period in which the antique was produced. I will beg for your forgiveness upfront if today’s blog gets a little academic.
For full disclosure I‘d like to state a few things at the outset: One - I am by no means an expert on antiques, I just happen to be a serious collector. That being said there are so many facets of antiques, I think it would be nearly impossible to be an expert on all of them. I recently helped two antique dealers with an estate sale. It took all three of us and our combined knowledge to be able to properly price all the items in the estate. Even with all of our collective knowledge, there were still a handful of items that required further research to be done. Two – I collect mainly primitives, books, and Victorian furniture. I am most knowledgeable about these items. Three – I mainly collect American antiques (as a person living in the United States, they are the most available) but I do have a few French pieces. Now that I have properly warned you about my limited knowledge base, here we go.
I know it must seem pretty obvious, but the country of origin will influence the look of the antique. American antiques are very different in appearance than a Chinese or Japanese antique, but may appear quite similar to a British one (depending on time period of course). Determining the country of origin can sometimes be very simple (if you get lucky and it’s marked on the bottom) or may require a bit of detective work. Sometimes you will have to rely on a symbol or maker’s mark and sometimes you just have to take a guess based on style.
This brings us to time periods. Since this a blog (not a class), I am going to focus on American styles and briefly list them. Since my antique talk is going to be a series, I will expand on the time periods in greater detail in later blogs.
Georgian refers to the style used in Britain and the British colonies during the reigns of George I-George IV (1720-1840).
Federal refers to American furniture produced in the Federal style, which lasted from approximately 1789 to 1823. I would like to point out that the Federal period starts with the end of the Revolutionary War.
American Empire is a French-inspired neoclassical style (think Napoleon). It was popular from about 1810-1825. A simplified version of American Empire is referred to as Grecian style.
Victorian refers to the period when Queen Victoria reigned in Britain (1837-1901). This era is known for its ornate decoration. Beauty was greatly appreciated by the Victorians and this attention to detail can be seen in the most trivial item all the way up to the grandest houses built during this period. The Victorian era is interesting in that it was also a period of technological advances (telephone, electricity). One can find a variety of interesting gadgets from this period.
Arts and Crafts is an international design movement that flourished between 1860 and 1910, especially in the second half of that period, continuing its influence until the 1930s. It first appeared in the British Isles, but spread to Europe and North America. The movement incorporated traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often applied medieval, romantic, or folk styles of decoration.
Edwardian is the period right after Queen Victoria’s death in 1901. There is some debate as to when the period ends. Some place it in 1910 with King Edward’s death; others place it with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 while still others extend it to the beginning of World War I in 1914. The Edwardian period is a little more relaxed than the preceding Victorian period.
Whew! So there you have it, a brief overview of country of origin and some of the American time periods. I will expand on these in further blogs. Hopefully this has served as a simple primer for your antiquing adventures this weekend!
Until Tomorrow - Melissa
Enjoying a cup of tea on my Eastlake style chair in my Edwardian suit (confussed yet?).