American Furniture By E. T. Joy

Knotted pine:

originally a second-best plank of pine with the rough knot showing in the wood and therefore used only when covered with paint. Today the paint is removed, the knot design being liked by enough collectors to make old knotty pine sought after.

Labelled furniture:

mid-eighteenth-century American chair and cabinet-makers often pasted small paper labels, advertising their wares, on furniture leaving their shops. A number of these labels remain to this day on the furniture and, when genuine, help establish the article as an authentic piece. Labelled furniture has been of value in helping establish the characteristics of a particular shop.


as distinguished from japanning (q.v.), an American type of lacquering (a mere coating with varnish, with or without adding designs in gilt) was used on early nineteenth-century fancy chairs and tables, etc.


Chippendale-style chair highly popular in America 1760-95. Its horizontal slat back resembles a ladder. Often elegant, almost always in mahogany and straight-legged. Not to be confused with Slat back (q.v.).

Lazy Susan:

see Dumb waiter.

Lighthouse clock:

shelf or mantel clock designed by Simon Willard about 1800 (Fig. 12). The case is judged to have been modelled after the lighthouse on Eddystone Rock in the English Channel. Miller declares that" because of mechanical difficulties . . . very few were made".


see Windsor chair.


modern name for an American creation inspired by the English flat-top dressing-table with drawers, yet in its final development closer to the French commode. Attractively plain in New England, much carved and ornamented in Philadelphia. It occurs in three styles-William and Mary, Queen Anne, and ChipĀ¬pendale. Often made as a companion piece to the highboy (q.v.). Dressing-table, chamber-table, low chest of drawers were eighteenth-century names for it.


the lyre form as a furniture ornament reached America after the Revolution and was increasingly used until about 1830 for chair backs and table supports in Hepplewhite, Sheraton and, notably, Duncan Phyfe furni- ture (Fig. 13). American lyre-form clocks, late Empire style, were popular about 1825-40.


San Domingo mahogany, which darkens with age, and Cuban mahogany, which does not, are two of the finest qualities of this rich reddish brown hardwood. Joseph Downs point out that mahogany was used in America as early as 1708, was well known in New England by 1730-5, became throughout America the standard wood for fine furniture by 1750, and was the reigning favourite thereafter.


a handsome, pale, satiny hard-wood of close grain, plentiful in the northern part of America. Much used for furniture, especially in New England, ever since earliest times. Often it was the inexpensive substitute for walnut or mahogany, also for satinwood inlay, etc. Old maple takes on a rich honey colour. Its regular or plain graining is subject to several very attractive markings - curly (a tiger striping), bird's-eye, blister and quilted (Plate 39A). Many pieces of furniture have been established as American because the underframing or secondary wood is maple.

Marlborough leg:

of obscure origin, perhaps originating in England as the trade term for a bed with square or square tapering (pillar) legs and block (plinth) feet. In America, by extension, a whole range of elegant furniture, mostly mid-eighteenth-century Philadelphian, with legs as described, generally with the inside edge chamfered to lighten the appearance (Plate 390). The authority, Horner, says: 'A refinement and rival of the cabriole. . . . There were but few pieces of the Chinese-Chippendale ever made in Philadelphia, so that nearly all Pembroke tables and similar articles should be classified as Marlborough. . . .'

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Antiques For Sale

Philip Burke has a wide range of 18th and 19th century English and continental antique furniture.

The different styles of antique furniture that comes in may only last a few days in the workshop before they are sold. If you require a piece of furniture not listed please call and we will do our best to cater for your needs.



Philip Burke has been involved in restoration work for a number of years dealing with all aspects of antique furniture restoration and conservation

Antique furniture is not always beautiful and pristine--in fact, some of the most valuable pieces show wear and fading. Whether or not to restore antique furniture can be a complex question, but it also depends on the definition of "restore."


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Based in the heart of Kensington, Philip Burke is in the ideal location for servicing clients from around the London area's. If you require a home visit or just want some advice on your antique furniture please do not hesitate to get in touch.


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