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A Concise History of American Period Furniture
By Stanley D. Saperstein
Jacobean | William & Mary | Queen Anne | Georgian | Chippendale | Hepplewhite | Adam | Sheraton | Federal | Victorian | Country | Gothic | Arts & Crafts
The last of the great periods was the Victorian. All furniture produced since has been reproductions, except for modern furniture of steel and plastic. No new outstanding styles have appeared, and they probably will not, because the era of hand-sculptured furniture is over, made obsolete by the machine and rising labor costs. These things have made the costs of antiques rise out of the ordinary person's reach. The only fine furniture being produced today is hand-made reproductions by the few craftsmen left. These reproductions will have great value in the future due to the fact they are the only hand-made pieces in the twentieth, and now the twenty first centuries made by individual craftsmen in their own style.
Only furniture made prior to 1840 is a true "antique." These pieces are hand made, works of art crafted by hand even when made in factory settings. Carving is crisp, joints are hand fit, and finishes were hand rubbed. It is not only the age of the pieces, however, that gives it value, but the greatness of the design, construction, and carving. Artisans carries on the tradition of fine craftsmanship of the great periods, reproducing period pieces of antique quality.
Around 1840 machines started taking over; the industrial revolution in full force and the desire for quantity over quality deteriorated construction methods. The use of screws, poor glues, and designs taking ease of assembly ahead of form. Recently these machine made pieces have peaked in value as collectibles. Their designs loosely taken from the great periods, their basic form fits into modern decor and their still manageable price tags allow a wider market.
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