While the United States boasts far fewer antique pieces than older countries around the world, one can still find a selection of collectible and vintage furniture in homes and shops across the country. Once restored to their former glory, antique pieces give us a unique glimpse into the craftsmen of America’s past.
Early American furniture closely mimicked English aesthetics, but it evolved as craftsmen experimented with new styles. Some of our favorite American furniture makers broke ground with original designs while others stuck to English traditions. Here’s a list of some of our favorite antique furniture makers who largely influenced the look and feel of the furniture we’ve come to love today.
John Henry Belter
Belter, who worked in New York from 1845 to 1865, was known for expertly crafting furniture in the Rococo style. He was so skilled at carving that others copied his techniques, cementing his reputation as one of the best antique furniture designers. His innovative process allowed him to carve beautiful pieces while preserving their strength and durability. He also received a patent for devising a process that improved laminated construction.
Horner also crafted furniture in the late 1800s, paying close attention to European designs while embracing new ones. He used fine mahogany and oak hardwoods to create high style pieces common in the Victorian era, such as ornate dining and bedroom furniture.
Stickley manufactured mission-style furniture in New York in the early 1900s, paying close attention to form and purpose. He crafted furniture he thought was comfortable, practical, and well-made. The piece’s attractiveness came second to its purpose, an idea that transformed previous notions of beauty and design. Unlike the more ornate pieces that came before, Stickley’s furniture is clean, rectangular, sturdy, and masculine.
Charles & Ray Eames
Fifty years after Stickley’s time came a whole new American design: mid-century modern furniture. Husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames designed pieces that were easy to mass produce, composed of interchangeable parts, and made of industrial materials. The couple was best known for creating chairs and storage units, but they also designed other furniture pieces. The mid-century modern style is still popular today—it can be found in many department stores across the country. Eames chairs are classics.
Their Legacies Live On
Each designer helped form distinctly American pieces in their own way, whether through meticulous attention toward their craft or through new ideas about how furniture should be used and manufactured. Their pieces reflect America’s changing ideas of beauty, form, and function and are still used and loved by furniture enthusiasts to this day. If you want to identify your furniture’s designer, look for antique porcelain plaques or paper labels with the manufacture’s name, or examine the style of carving.
If you have an antique that needs some work, contact us. We’ve brought quality workmanship and excellent customer service to the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 2005. With years of experience under our belts, we are confident we can get your antique back in great shape without sacrificing its original character and charm. We look forward to restoring your antique so you can enjoy it in all its glory for years to come.