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Furniture (F) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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FAKES: The collector of antique furniture must be on his guard against frauds and the fraudulent dealer. While there is no general rule that will apply in all cases, there is one method by means of which one can often avoid making mistakes, and that is to buy antique furniture only in the original condition, unrestored and from reputable dealers. Repairing and restoration that may be required, within reasonable limits, should not prevent one from purchasing if the piece shall then be serviceable and in harmony with your other furnishings. There are so many pitfalls for the inexperienced buyer that to attempt to catalogue them would require more space than is available here. Until one gains experience through study of good examples the best advice is to rely upon a good dealer.

FALDSTOOL: A folding stool not unlike a camp stool. A common type of early seat.

FALL FRONT: The falling front of a desk or bureau.

FAN BACK: The back of a Windsor chair with the spindles flaring like an open fan.

FAN MOTIF: Its use was similar to the shell ornament and popular at the same time. It was sometimes made in rosette form but this was merely doubling the fan, producing a sunburst effect.



FAUTEUIL: An arm-chair of French origin, open under the arms, in ontradistinction to the bergere.

FEATHER BANDING: A feather pattern of veneering. See HERRINGBONE.

FEDERAL PERIOD (American) 1789-1812: In this period the work of the American cabinet-maker continued on a high plane of excellence. The styles of Adam and Sheraton and later the influence of the French Empire styles are all reflected in the production of the craftsmen of Boston, Salem, New York and Philadelphia, and some of the smaller towns. Duncan Phyfe in New York rose to leadership in not only his designs, which were a combination of the best of Sheraton and of the French, but in the careful selection of the wood he used and in his masterly carving. Much furniture in this period was made at Salem and other places in New England for shipment to southern states and foreign ports, an enterprise which began in the preceding period.

FESTOON: A decorative series of scallops, forming a rope, flower chain or draperies.

FIDDLE-BACK: The name given in this country to the shape of the splat on the chairs of the Queen Anne period. The shape was derived, however, from the oviform Chinese vases then so popular in Europe. See VASE MOTIF.


FILIGREE PAPER DECORATION: Rolled paper or mosaic work, a favorite recreation for ladies in the 18th century. The patterns employed were used for fire screens, tea caddies, frames, etc.

FINIAL: An architectural term for an ornamental pinnacle on the pediments of furniture. A finishing device.

FINISH: A method of finishing restored or repaired pieces of old furniture, recommended by a good authority (H. H. Taylor), consists of what he calls general purpose finish, using a brown shade of orange shellac as the base, mixed with an equal part of wood, or denatured, alcohol, which makes a thin mixture to be applied three or four times in succession, as each coat dries, producing a fine, smooth surface. Soft, porous woods such as pine absorb more than the harder woods. Maple or mahogany may require but two coats. These shellac coats dry very quickly. After this, the piece is ready for its wax finish. This may be prepared as follows: take a can of yellow floor wax and mix with it a small quantity of burnt umber to give it the desired color. This wax is known as a paraffin-base wax and it is very inflammable. Apply a fairly heavy coat of the wax over the shellacked surfaces, rub it well with a soft woolen cloth, and repeat three or four times, setting the piece aside in a warm room for twenty-four hours between each application. This finish will not mar, chip or bruise. See OIL FINISH and WAX FINISH.

FIRE SCREENS: To protect the face from the heat of the fire. They were made from designs by Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton and other cabinet-makers from the middle to the end of the 18th century. They were made in two patterns: the pole screen and the horse (cheval) screen. The pole, four to five feet in height, is set in a tripod stand and the screen, usually oblong, slides up and down the pole. The horse screen was in the form of two uprights, supporting a good-sized rectangular panel of needlework. Some of the screens were painted or decorated" with bead work design. Fire screens are distinctly English and most of those used in this country were imported.

FLAT CARVING: Carving in which the background is cut or taken out, leaving the design itself flat. It is a feature of 17th-century chests made in England and in this country.


FLEMISH FOOT: Used on Jacobean furniture, with one scroll turning in, the other turning out.

FLEMISH FURNITURE: Until the middle of the 17th century the style of Dutch and Flemish furniture was similar. After that, while Holland developed a style of her own, Flemish furniture followed French fashions. The wood chiefly used was oak and the distinguishing feature was a profusion of elaborate carving. The furniture was often heavy and bulky and more clumsy than graceful. The so-called Flemish scroll was prominent.

FLEMISH SCROLL: A baroque form of the 16th and 17th centuries with the curve broken by an angle.


FLUTING: Channeling or grooving on a flat surface.


FORMS: The name given in England to the bench in use in the 17th century and earlier in the place of chairs. Two varieties of bench, portable and fixed, were common in medieval days. The fixed seat usually had a back and it was attached to the wall. Short forms, or j oint stool (q.v.), were placed at the ends of the table and the long forms along side.

FRAME: This was a separate four-legged support to several different pieces of furniture, in Colonial days, as evidenced by many inventories of estates of that time.,/p>


FRENCH FURNITURE: In France during the Renaissance, the furniture was solid and carved elaborately. Walnut was the most used wood. There was but little French furniture of note previous to the days of Louis XIV, and French provincial furni' ture bears the same relation to period styles that American Colonial furniture does to the styles of the Mother Country. It was generally made of local woods. The long enduring Louis Quatorze (XIV) and Louis Quinze (XV) periods (q.v.), rich in furniture development, wrought a strong influence on both English and other European cabinet-makers. Chippendale and Sheraton borrowed heavily from French designs. Usually the French bias was partially disguised under a shell of English adaptation but the French leaven was there and working.

FRET-WORK: Interlaced, ornamental work, sometimes applied on a solid background and sometimes perforated. It was a popular form of ornament with Chippendale. Also called lattice-work.

FRIEZE: The middle division of an entablature, usually carved ,inlaid or painted.

FURNITURE DESIGN, BOOKS OF: Published in England in the 18th century.

The Gentleman's or Builder's Companion, WILLIAM JONES, 1739; Original Designs for Furniture, LOCK and COPELAND, 1740; Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent, 1744; Treasury of Designs, BATTY LONGLEY, 1745; Six Tables, MATTHUS LOCK, 1746; Book of Ornament, MATTHIAS LOCK, 1765; The Gentleman's and Cabinet Maker's Directory, THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, 1754, 1759, 1762; A New Book of Chinese, Gothic and Modern Chairs, MATTHIAS DARLY, 1754; Cabinet and Chairmaker's Friend and Companion, ROBERT MANWARING, 1765; Universal System of Household Furniture, INCE & MAYHEw, 1748; Household Furniture, SOCIETY OF UPHOLSTERERS, 1760; The Cabinet Maker's and Upholsterer's Guide, HEPPLEWHITE, 1788, 1789, 1794; Cabinet Maker's Book of Prices, LONDON SOCIETY, 1788, 1793, 1803; CabinetMaker's and Upholsterer's Drawing Book, THOMAS SHERATON, 1793, 1796, 1802.