The Victorian era was very much one of revivals when it comes to antique furniture of the period and much was borrowed from earlier designs. Victorian furniture manufacturers also used a great deal of poetic licence to satisfy their mass markets and very few of these revival pieces were faithful copies of the originals. Not only did they differ in quality, where mass production took away much of the hand crafted cabinetry of period pieces, but also materials and construction methods were used ad libitum to create an eclecticism of choice for the fashion and class conscious Victorians.
Although mass production does tend to detract rather from what the discerning antiques aficionado is after, there were many attractive pieces, hybrid or otherwise, produced during this period that remain to represent all the eccentricities of the period.
There are however a few faithful copies where the quality of the piece shines out. Between 1830 and 1860, ‘out of period’ pieces were being faithfully reproduced, using traditional hand crafted cabinetry and made from mahogany which had been the cabinet makers choice since the decline of walnut from the 1720s onwards.
Other examples of hand crafting during the Victorian era were of course the pieces of oak furniture produced by the Arts and Crafts Movement but these were more a celebration of the joiner’s rather than cabinet makers’ art and are much easier to spot stylistically than some of the well constructed, hand crafted Chippendale and Hepplewhite Victorian reproductions being made.
Good quality faithful reproductions of period and Arts and Crafts antique furniture can be sourced through Lancashire, Cumbria and other dealerships across the UK.
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