Friday, February 25, 2011
From the earliest times of civilisation man has travelled, as time progressed large trunks and chests packed full of ones possessions were loaded onto horse drawn carriages or sailing ships to make long voyages from Europe or Asia to far away unexplored lands.
The style of travellers trunk we know today originated from the latter part of the 18th century. The earliest examples were constructed of pine or similar softwoods and covered with hide or leather and were usually produced by furniture makers so vaguely resembled furniture of the period. Into the early 19th century a waterproof material was used or they were covered in decoratively fabrics, canvas and even hammered tin, finished with locks and various hardware depending on the quality on the trunk.
|2 English trunks circa 1860 with provenance, available from www.leestanton.com|
|Leather Heavily Brass studded trunk circa 1850 available from www.trovegallery.com|
Over the next 100 years people began to travel more and trunks began to be widely produced some being purposely designed to carry various cargo, anything from travelling wardrobes fitted with drawers and hanging space, to dome top trunks fitted with trays to carry valuable silver flatware.
|Oak Silver chest circa 1890 available from www.dixonlaneantiques.1stdibs.com|
|Louis Vuitton Trunk/Wardrobe circa 1920's available from www.richardnortoninc.1stdibs.com|
As the 20th century arrived luggage also began to become a fashion accessory for the wealthy traveller and luggage became more lavish and stylish. The best luggage makers were French, with names such as Louis Vuitton, Goyard & Hermes fitting out the most fashionable and wealthy travellers with a wide selection of luggage suitable for all their needs, from Shoe trunks to Hat boxes. These historic stores still produce top quality luggage to this day.
|Goyard Hat Trunk circa 1920's available from www.1stdibs.com|
|4 Pieces of vintage Louis Vuitton Luggage circa 1920's - 50's available from www.essex-antiquarians.com|
|A superb Giant cigar trunk by Louis Vuiton available from www.pullmangallery.com|
Vintage luggage today is sought after and commands exceptionally high prices, its rarely used for its purpose but now used as Occasional & Coffee tables, interior decoration and shop fitting. Whatever its use, I adore the style and quality of these pieces the more I get to see them the better !!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
As London Fashion week comes to an end and next seasons styles are out of the bag, its made me think about the huge influence this all has on the way we will decorate homes in the next year also how we will furnish them.
Obviously the colours we're wearing at any time will affect the colour we chose for paint, fabric, carpet etc.
But how does fashion affect our choice in furniture ?
I've been looking back over the past 100 or so years and comparing how what people were wearing with the architecture and interiors of the time. The styles within each period all seem somehow to “gel” and seem to sit well with each other.
The heavy drop and flow of the rich drapes in this Victorian style picture almost mirror the long flowing gowns the two ladies are wearing and the richly carved and ornate furniture fits style and tone of the room perfectly.
Another great example of this was the Art Deco era of the 1930's, the straight lines that are made to form geometric shapes in Deco furniture and accessories have come directly from the crisp sharp edged clothes worn during that period.
|A two-tier table by Dominique from the 1930's available from magenxxcentury.com|
|A 1930's Art Deco house & Vehicle|
|Classic Art Deco Geometry.. A Red Leather & Chrome armchair|
|3 Ladies in classic 1930's wear, note the straight cut of their dresses|
Heading towards and during the 2nd world war, clothes became a little more formal and utilitarian as did furniture and accessories. Furniture was made cheaply mainly from plywood and laminates and finished in veneers, it was hard wearing and known as utility furniture in England, it lived up to its name and served its purpose, in fact a lot of wartime furniture has been exported to North America in the last 30 years and still being used today.
|Ladies in 1940's smart practical clothes|
|Part of a Utility Furniture Brochure from the 40's|
|A Typical English 1940's living room|
As the more liberal 1960's & 70's commenced the skirts got shorter and then very flowery, smart cut suits lost out to flared pants and colourful kaftan's, and in turn everything got a little more fun and a whole lot more colourful as did the architecture, interior decoration and furniture.
|Shots from a fashion show in 1970|
|A VERY 1970's living area|
Of course some of the best quality and most stylish items whether be it houses, items of clothing, accessories, interiors or pieces of furniture are timeless and will always be lived in, worn or used. Then there's some ideas that probably shouldn't of even entered somebody's head !!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
For the past thousand year or two, that everyday object we sit on at our desk or pull up to our dinning table was an object of great importance and formality.
The humble chair has been sitting about for around for 2 millenniums but originally it was in a very ornate and decorated form and used only for heads of state and religious dignitaries, more the symbol of great importance and state dignity rather than a general seating item.
The chair as we know it today did not come into general use until the 16th century and even then was only to those who could afford such a luxury. Until then people had used more utilitarian furniture such as chests and stools for seating. Over the next few years in Europe the chair became a staple item of household furniture.
|A good pair of panelled back oak chairs circa 1720's available from http://www.jaynethompsonantiques.com/|
|A pair of European oak Gothic throne seats|
Styles of chair have changed probably more than any other piece of furniture and are still evolving according to fashions even this very day.
To see anything but old pictures of a very early example of chair is rare as most have been worn or destroyed over the years but there is a few in museums around Europe.
The Victorian period in the UK brought a variety of styles from a fine mahogany bowed back chair with slender tapering legs to a heavy set carved oak chair. In France the styles were relatively similar except the carving in my opinion seems to be slightly more concise and detailed on generally all French furniture compared to English designs.
|2 of a set of 10 carved oak Victorian dinning chairs available from www.antiquefurniture.tv|
|A fine set of 6 Victorian mahogany dinning chairs circa 1860 available from www.vaaltd.ca|
|A set of 6 19th century French ballroom chairs available from www.eastandorient.com|
As the styles moved into the 20th century the designs flourished, from Art Noveau to Art Deco and then there was individual styles such as the bentwood chair made in Europe by shaping the round chair fame over steam and fitting pressed laminated seats.
|A pair of fine Art Noveau side chairs available from Vacobra on 504-525-6363|
|A pair of 1930 Bentwood chairs available from www.oldplank.com|
As the 1960's & 70's crept up we saw the start of one piece moulded plastic chairs and then the now very widely used Eames style chair.
|An Eames molded plastic chair http://store.hermanmiller.com/store/servlet/dynamicKit__10151_-1_10051_384|
|1 of a set of 4 moulded plastic children's chairs by Alexander Begge available from www.french50s60s.com|
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I always enjoy seeing retired industrial items or vintage shop fittings being recycled and used in a home environment. A great deal of these items are very hard wearing and ideal for the rough & tumble of a busy family home, and at the same time add some interest to a home where perhaps precious antiques and fine furniture are either too much for the budget or just not practical with children..
I've gathered together some pictures of a few of my favourite pieces that I have come across recently, such as the fabulous old work table pictured above and available from
Large old shop counters are usually packed full of useful drawers, cupboards and cubbyholes on one side then panelled on the other, this makes them ideal as room dividers or free standing kitchen units.
A French 19th Century painted shop counter (More details from
Old pews or benches from churches and waiting rooms make ideal family seating around a kitchen table or in a hallway and and old sets of filing drawers make for useful storage in an older style kitchen, a home office, or study. The wooden sets look great after a bit of a clean and wax polish or if you have some time and feeling a little more adventurous the metal sets look awesome stripped of their paint and metal polished. There is however companies that will either sell you a set already polished or will do the hard work for you.
|A set of metal filing drawers stripped of their paint and polished.|
|A 1920's Oak office filing cabinet|
|A Pair of church pews dating from around 1880|
When it comes to accessories the world really is your oyster, just let your tast and imagination run wild, anything from old advertising displays to the quirkier things such as a hat blocks from an old milliners shop to a giant chocolate bar display from a candy store. I've posted a few ideas here but I'm sure you can do a whole lot better.
|A 1920's Double sided Railroad clock available from Obsolete at|
|An Original 1940's Metal Boot Polish advertisement|
|A pair of woven steel Industrial stools|
|A cast Iron & Steel revolving industrial clothes rack available from|
|An Ornate wrought iron mirror made from a 19th century French factory window|
You may have noticed my failure to mention the vast array of interesting lighting out there, I feel that warrants a whole piece to itself so watch this space !!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Over the years I've lost count of the numerous different TV shows or interior magazines that have come and gone. With each new era or fashion that arrives there's a new programme or publication made and along with them what seems to be a whole new term of phrases.
When I came into the Antiques trade 20 years ago an antique was generally classified as an item of interest, a work of art or piece of furniture dating around or over 100 years old. These days something dating from just the past 30 years or so seems to fall into the same category.
The fairly recent trend in all things 1960's or 70's has been given the “Retro” label, which is I think is a suitable title given the style of that period, but just lately I've noticed goods from the 80's and early 90's mentioned under the same such name.
Then there's the “Vintage” label, which to the most part seems to cover a wide variety of items mostly dating from the past 10 or 20 years . Under this category could be put anything from an old video game to a piece of Louis Vuitton luggage or ladies purse.
Times they are a changing, so now what was once a good quality bookcase is a valuable piece of fine Chippendale furniture and the old flower vase now a rare Chinese antiquity, all carefully nestled securely in a museum or private collection somewhere in the world never to be touched or used again. Similarly the priceless family heirloom we all once liked to think we had has long fallen under the auctioneers hammer or been sold online in the hope of getting rich. Now although the occasional piece still shows up at an estate clearance or yard sale, most of the time we make do with things not so old and in turn the whole antiques trade has had to change to more of a interiors trade and now its not so much the age or provenance of the piece but more of does it have the right “Look”.
So whether you own a genuine antique table, a vintage piece of luggage, a retro lamp or collectable video game. Learn about it and enjoy it, then if you like it, live with it and if you don't just wait a while and then move it on to another category.