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The Tudor Period - Antique Furniture

Good old English oak—Architectural furniture—The quality of carved oak—Distinguishing marks—Some curious pieces.

IT is by no means easy to distinguish between the furniture made during the late Gothic period, or the time when the influence of Continental Renaissance was still strong in England, and that made when the Tudor sovereigns were seated on the English throne.

Few of the very early pieces are dated, and even when dates are found carved on antique oak they are not at all reliable, for they have sometimes been carved at a later date on earlier furniture. Such dates have frequently been carved in all good faith, in that to their owners they would indicate the time when the furniture came into possession of some member of the family, whose. initials are carved thereon. To present-day owners and collectors such evident errors of date are apparent when the style of the lettering does not correspond with the designs of the carving, or the form of the piece of furniture. Dates which have been carved thereon in recent years to enhance the antiquarian value of the piece are not so easy to distinguish, for when placed there for that purpose the carver has tried to imitate the correct style of lettering, and has dated the piece according to his estimate of its age. Whilst many dealers are experts there are, however, many who never can grasp the points which enable the experienced dealer or collector to fix with tolerable certainty the period to which any given piece belongs. Such dealers very frequently over-reach the mark, and spoil what would otherwise be good pieces, although made at somewhat later dates than they have given to them.

The collector divides his periods in several ways, but always tries to avoid the inevitable overlapping of styles. Writers upon this subject differ much in their mode of distinguishing the different periods of early oak, but all aim at putting some landmark in the history of furniture, and giving collectors indications by which they may fix their specimens in some well-defined period, although the mixing of styles and the gradual development which took place during the Tudor and early Jacobean periods gave rise to many nondescript pieces which cannot easily be said to belong to either one or other of the subdivisions of the Tudor period. In this and the following two chapters English furniture is referred to as "Tudor," "Elizabethan or late Tudor," and " Jacobean," using the latter term in the narrowed sense of the period after the Restoration.

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

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