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A Concise History of American Period Furniture
By Stanley D. Saperstein
Thomas Sheraton was a teacher, preacher, bookseller, fanatic, and pamphleteer in addition to being a furniture designer. He was not a master craftsman, but he exerted a tremendous influence on furniture craftsmen through his designs in his four books. He jobbed out all orders to cabinetmakers, who executed his designs. Sheraton designed the first twin beds, roll-top desks, kidney-shaped tables, and dual-purpose furniture.
Characteristics: Slender, refined, delicate designs that are structurally sound and durable in construction. Legs are slender, usually round, but never cabriolet. All pieces are well-proportioned, with strait lines predominating. Ornamentation is simple, with inlay and marquetry used extensively. Carving was classical, with ferns, ovals, urns, etc. Favored woods were mahogany for dining rooms, bedrooms, and libraries; satinwood, rosewood, and painted furniture for drawing rooms. Upholstering fabrics were plain, striped, and flowered satins, silks, and damasks.
It should be noted that all periods and craftsmen mentioned were English American craftsmen copied the prevailing styles. The only specific style that evolved was the Philadelphia style of Chippendale, which was very bold and lavishly carved. The furniture produced in America is difficult to distinguished from that imported from England because many fine craftsmen from England, Holland, and France came to America and trained American-born apprentices.
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