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Duncan Phyfe Furniture: History, Characteristics, & Restorations

Duncan Phyfe FurnitureThe History of Duncan Phyfe Furniture

In the United States, we have many furniture styles that have survived the centuries and still have an impact. But there are few American furniture makers we still remember today. Duncan Phyfe is an exception. Coming to the U.S. in 1784 from Scotland, he established himself as a talented cabinet and furniture maker in New York, pulling from Neoclassical and Regency styles and developing his own unique characteristics that are still imitated in reproductions today.

How to Identify Duncan Phyfe Furniture

Phyfe rarely added any labels or marks to his furniture.  When looking for genuine 19th-century furniture made by him, you will need to know the common characteristics of Duncan Phyfe furniture.

Phyfe was heavily influenced by Hepplewhite and his influence is easily seen.  The style is commonly known for harps, lutes, and lyres in chair backs. Upholstered seats are typical in chairs with smaller, more delicate legs.  Phyfe furniture tends to have straight parallelled qualities, as opposed to the curvature seen in Queen Anne furniture.   Drop-leaf tables on hinges are popular while you may find arches in many of his dining tables.  Three legged tables and brass feet are also very common.

Many original pieces would have been made from hard strong woods such as mahogany and walnut.  However, all modern-day reproductions can vary.

Find and Restore Duncan Phyfe Furniture

Duncan Phyfe made an indelible mark on American furniture, with examples of his style seen today. Due to Phyfe’s popularity and the explosion of reproductions, you will find examples of Duncan Phyfe’s favorite furniture characteristics on the used furniture market. Originals can run $50,000-$150,000 for a dining table; while reproductions may be valued at just a few thousand.  The condition of pieces can vary greatly, so our team at Aaron’s Touch Up & Restoration can verify authenticity and help in the restoration process.

Here is an example of a Duncan Phyfe piece we refinished. We have the experience to restore antique furniture and maintain its integrity while changing to meet your needs. Contact us for more information on recognizing authentic Duncan Phyfe furniture characteristics or on starting a project like this one.

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