Early American Furniture

Early American settlers produced very high-quality furniture that was built to last a long time.  Many of these pieces have survived for generations and are often featured in present-day antique magazines and television programs such as Antique Roadshow.

Furniture from the Revolutionary War era can be extremely difficult to find. While the quality of many pieces are considerably good, time has taken its toll on most furniture from this era.  Our listings include auction listings from many furniture pieces and sets from this period, including furniture from America and its European trading partners.

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During the earliest days of American history, when British colonies were established along the east coast of the United States, it was obviously necessary for furniture to be made that would suit the needs of these early settlers.  Based on designs that were used in Europe, early American furniture had to be made from wood that was available locally along the east coast.  Most of the designs of the time were functional in nature as first and foremost, furniture had to be useful before it was visually appealing.

The first thing to note about early American furniture is that straight lines were used a great deal of the time and ornate designs were often not used during this time.  Chairs were often made with straight backs or what are referred to as “ladderback”.  The seats of the chairs were either made of solid wood, but often rush was woven as well, to make a more comfortable seat.  Furniture that included drawers had carved wood handles, often mushroom shaped. 

Fabric was also used, but they did not have the many fabrics that we have today, Linen and leather was most often used as was Cretonne.  In order to finish the furniture and protect it, paint and varnish was used and wax may have also been used.  During the construction of this furniture, a mortise and tenon joint was used to create a simple, but strong joint. 

As or the wood used in early furniture, craftsman used what was available to them at the time in their local area, which included Cherry, Ash, Pine, Oak, Elm, Birch, Maple, Hickory and more.  As it was expensive to ship would in from other parts of the world, it became necessary that craftsman learned to use the wood that was available out their back door, but thankfully many good quality, strong woods were available for them to use.