Knowing what types of wood were being used to make 18th century English furniture is a good indicator of the age and style of individual pieces.
Walnut furniture is definitely the earlier, made just before and during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14). Prior to her reign, Huguenot craftsmen coming to England from France had already raised the bar considerably by bringing over Baroque styling and much superb quality lacquered and marquetry walnut furniture was produced during this time. Fine walnut veneering on smaller pieces of Queen Anne furniture, the introduction of the cabriole leg and the wonderful walnut patinas ensure that furniture from this period is still highly sought after.
From 1720 onwards, walnut was becoming scarce and by 1750 mahogany imported from the West Indies was now the wood of choice for fine furniture. Its density meant it was ideal for the heavily carved Rococo styling that Thomas Chippendale is famed for. The wide girth of the tree also meant that mahogany could be used easily for table tops; it was very strong and had a beautiful patina. Mahogany has continued in use throughout and as with walnut, period mahogany 18th and 19th century furniture remains very popular.
With advent of the much simpler styling of Neo-classicism from 1765 onwards, satinwood imported from Puerto Rico rivalled mahogany in the making of fine furniture. The pale straw colouration and satin figuring of the wood contrasted with the strong reddish tones of mahogany and is easily recognisable on late 18th century antique furniture.
When looking for 18th century walnut, mahogany and satinwood antique desks, Preston antiques dealers will be able to advise on wood, styles, age and quality.
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