Antique Victorian Furniture is a style of furniture named after England’s Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 – 1901.
As Britain increased with wealth the numbers of middle class homes rose, causing an enormous increase in furniture production. Machines were being used more regular on carved decoration but there was still no mass production until the late Victorian times.
The simple Grecian lines were now out of fashion and Georgian furniture was often given to the poor or stored away into attics. The new fashion was more imposing Victorian furniture with plenty of curves, rounded corners, glossy finishes, elaborate decoration and later in the century, ornate heavily carved pieces. Motifs and elements from different periods were often used together. Mahogany and Rosewood were the most popular woods but Oak was still very much in the picture as it was readily available. Iron also made its appearance in the early Victorian age, particularly in Victorian bedroom furniture. Victorian furniture was still mainly constructed by hand with dovetail joints, pin hinges, turned bun feet and turned handles.
The trend of furniture became more feminine and delicate; comfort was a big factor in design with easy chairs, sofas and more dining chairs with padded seats. In the late 1880s reproduction antique furniture was in very high demand, as Chippendale, Tudor and Sheraton styles were copied. Tudor style was usually very dark with an age simulated finish. Chippendale and Sheraton style furniture was usually built to high quality standards and copied by well known makers like Gillows of Lancaster.
Early Victorian furniture still had elements of Regency and William IV with curved backs and some scrolled or reeded decoration. Loo and Card tables were very popular for entertaining and military furniture was very popular due to the fact that people travelled more.
Mid Victorian furniture was more curved, shiny and upholstery was a main factor in design. Turned knobs, scrolled backs and usually plain mouldings with a small amount of carved decoration was used.
In the late Victorian era, furniture was chunkier, lots of carved decoration and new styles appeared like Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau.
Gothic and medieval carvings were popular along with dark oak and large imposing Mahogany pieces. Mirror back chiffoniers and sideboards with carved pediments and lots of storage below or heavily carved gothic sideboards were always popular. Seating was still based on comfort like button back chesterfields and easy chairs. Tables were usually wind out with turned legs and simple designed furniture like chest of drawers would usually have an elaborate carved corbel to finish it off.
Victorian Arts and Crafts furniture became popular in England in the mid to late Victorian times and was handmade in a simple country or farmhouse style. It was solidly built, well constructed and had few decorative effects. The wood was usually unvarnished and pieces were constructed with solid wood with no veneer, the whole appearance was one of simple and practical. The renowned cabinet makers Morris and co. also produced simple designed cabinets and sideboards on which Morris painted scenes of medieval fantasy. The designers of the Arts and Crafts style wanted to show the superiority of handmade furniture, they made pieces that were affordable for most classes and is still very fashionable.
In the late Victorian times, England witnessed the rise of the art nouveau movement in design. English Art Nouveau furniture was pioneered by the designers Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Hugh Baillie Scott. Art Nouveau continued to have some influence in the Edwardian furniture period.
Styles of Victorian Furniture
Victorian furniture was built to impress, as having fine things in your home was a symbol of status. This spectacular figured Rosewood Victorian antique bookcase was just the type of piece to show a sense of class and style; It was by a very good maker with original makers stamp H Ogden Manchester. This breath-taking piece has most probably been bespoke built due to its unusual small proportions but does not detract in any way from the amount of storage space it holds and would look spectacular in most homes. This amazing antique has been constructed from quality figured Rosewood and has a moulded cornice above four glazed doors with arched mouldings and beautifully turned handles. The lower section is of waist height showing a true sign of quality and has a beautifully figured top with moulded edges above four cupboard doors with central fielded panels that are beautifully figured.
The Victorian cabinet maker had woods being imported from all over the world and this meant unusual timbers were being used in Victorian furniture. Victorian desks were often made in spectacular woods like Satin Birch.
Other woods were used to create breath-taking pieces to display small specimens of woods on one piece. This Pollard Oak Victorian table has a specimen top that incorporates many other quality woods such as Ebony, Walnut, Snake Wood , Rosewood and Satinwood. The pure craftsmanship is evident and could have only been made by a true Victorian craftsman, with a hexagonal moulded tilting top with the original brass mechanism and standing on an elegant turned pedestal with tripod splayed legs. This amazing piece would look stunning in most homes and would make the perfect display table which is simply unique.
This quality Scottish large antique Mahogany Victorian chest of drawers dated from the mid 19th century circa 1860. They have been constructed from stunning quality figured mahogany and have a concealed beautifully figured freize drawer, perfect for storing all those valuables, above a central bonnet drawer. As this is a tall grand piece, it has graduating drawers with cock beaded edges and beautifully turned rosewood handles. These stunning drawers also benefit from beautifully turned column uprights and stand on four turned bun feet.
Brass was incorporated in decoration along with figured ‘Burred’ woods like this unique pair of quality Walnut antique cabinets. They have beautifully figured tops above an elegantly inlaid frieze with brass rope twist banded edge. The cupboard doors are beautifully figured with unusual birds-eye-maple fielded central panel, brass key escutcheon and key with working lock on each cabinet. Each corner has a quality brass ormolu mount for that exquisite finish. The sides are beautifully inlaid and each interior has one central shelf with old velvet lining. These spectacular cabinets are a superb representation of true antiques due to the delightful charm and are extremely rare due to them being a pair.
Hepplewhite influences were still fashionable in Victorian era with the use of expensive Satinwood. This unusual pair of elegant inlaid antique Victorian chairs has shaped backs with beautifully inlaid centres and elegant out swept arms. These delightful chairs stand on out swept back legs, fine cabriole front legs and are unique in the fact that they have been constructed from the finest quality satinwood.
As dining was still quite formal in the Victorian era, pieces were made for serving food. These were not just plain and simple in design but were built to impress guests who were visiting. This is a prime example of an antique Victorian sideboard / Chiffonier from ca 1840 and made from flamed Mahogany timbers. The raised shaped back has beautiful scrolled carvings above an inverted breakfront top with canted corners. Each pedestal has a mahogany lined drawer above an arched panelled door with canted corners and beautiful elegant carved corbels. The interior has a sliding adjustable linen tray along with a deep drawer with original brass handle and cellaret interior.