Victorian antique furniture refers to pieces made during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), and includes both mass produced pieces and those hand crafted in small shops by designers such as Herter Brothers, Allen and Brother, Merklen Brothers, John Henry Belter, Alexander Roux and R.J. Horner.

Although some designers like George Hunzinger put labels or stamps on all their furniture, many did not, so attributing a Victorian piece conclusively can require lots of research. In terms of wood, walnut is generally inferior to rosewood, which was used on higher end pieces.

There are many, and very different, Victorian furniture styles. In fact, famous Victorian designer Charles Eastlake himself hated Rococo, which is mid 1850s Victorian. Here are some of the main Victorian styles:

1) Gothic Revival (circa 1830-1860). Think churches and you have a good feel for this furniture style - design elements such as arches, quatrefoils, trefoils, spires, and crockets.

2) Rococo Revival (c. 1840-1865). High-style furniture of French influence marked by use of naturalistic flora (flowers, shells) and fruit as well as C-scrolls and S-scrolls, and highly sinewy curved lines.. Early pieces may have used mahogany, but common Rococo often used Walnut, while the top-end leveraged Rosewood.

3) Renaissance Revival (c. 1860-1890). Reverses the feminine elegance of Rococo around the time of the Civil War by espousing masculine arches, cartouches, animal and human figures, inlaid panels, burl panels, gilt incising, and ormulu mounts. Subgenres include Egyptian Revival, Modern Gothic, and Neo-Grec.

4) Eastlake and Aesthetic Movement (c. 1880-1900). Moving away from the showy complicated designs of prior eras, this furniture has stylized natural elements (flowers, leaves), rectangular forms and severe lines, shallow incisings and turnings. On finer pieces, marquetry, inlay and veneering can also be found.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Rare Victorian

Rare Victorian

John Werry's in-depth blog on rare Victorian Furniture, with detailed, informative and often humorous posts on doze… [read review or visit site]

George Hunzinger Furniture

George Hunzinger Furniture

Scott Geyer's blog on the innovative Victorian furniture designs of George Jacob Hunzinger, who began manufacturing… [read review or visit site]

Index of American Design

Index of American Design

The Index of American Design project (1935-1942) was an effort to catalog American decorative arts objects from the… [read review or visit site]

Buffalo Architecture and History

Buffalo Architecture and History

Chuck LaChiusa's wonderful guide to the architecture and history of Buffalo, NY, also happens to host an impressive… [read review or visit site]

The Scrap Album

The Scrap Album

Malcolm Warrington’s The Scrap Album is a handsomely organized site, as you’d expect from an articulate champio… [read review or visit site]

Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards

Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards

Malcolm Roebuck's tribute to the ornate silk picture bookmarks and postcards ('Stevengraphs') produced by Thomas St… [read review or visit site]

Chipstone

Chipstone

This beautiful site showcases the collection of Stanley and Polly Stone of Fox Point, Wisconsin, consisting of earl… [read review or visit site]

Kentucky Online Arts Resource

Kentucky Online Arts Resource

This huge online database from the Speed Art Museum is a rich trove of beautiful photos and reference information o… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Recent News: Victorian Furniture

Source: Google News

This boy's life: In his re-released memoir, Judson D. Hale of 'Yankee ...
Concord Monitor, May 26th

My mother didn't associate our beautiful new house, complete with fancy silver wallpaper purchased in New York City, original oil paintings throughout, plush wall-to-wall carpeting also from New York, and elegant Victorian furniture brought up from...Read more

17th C. - 20th C. Fine Art & Antiques to be Auctioned
PR.com (press release), May 20th

Many period game tables, 18th and 19th century Spanish, English and French and Victorian furniture. Fine Oriental rugs, chandeliers, sterling silver, cut glass and crystal stemware, pre-Columbian art pieces, Minton, Rosenthal, Sevres and Mason's...Read more

Antiques appraised at Harwinton fundraiser
Torrington Register Citizen, May 17th

On Saturday local residents brought in items ranging from American Indian artifacts, victorian furniture and accessories from Victorian time period. The event announcement stated no guns, stamps, dolls or coins. Advertisement. “Stamps, dolls and coins ...Read more

Recliner shows simple style of Mission furniture
Chicago Daily Herald, May 8th

The simplicity of the furniture was a clear comment on the curvilinear lines and ornate designs of the mass-produced factory-made Victorian furniture. Myriad makers of Arts and Crafts furniture quickly followed Stickley's lead. Stickley, along with his...Read more

Rob Pruitt's Quirky Perspective
Wall Street Journal, April 30th

Dishware, Victorian furniture, children's books and DVDs. “Things do tend to pile up, especially for a person like me who doesn't like to throw anything away,” Mr. Brant said. The sale could be dismissed as a tabloid stunt, a chance to ogle or scoff at...Read more

Weston to open slave cabin to visitors
Fauquier Times, April 30th

The main house has a mix of Federal and Victorian furniture. It is furnished throughout. Sometime during the family's occupancy a new staircase was added to replace one whose outline can still be seen where a wall went up. The kitchen is outfitted for...Read more

Joe Rosson: Rare Victorian hall tree has magnificent detailed carving
Knoxville News Sentinel, January 10th

Let me start by saying that this piece is Victorian, but we know that Victorian furniture was made in a rather large variety of sub styles. There is, for example, Eastlake, which is an essentially rectangular style decorated with shallow machine...Read more

Victorian opulence is in vogue once again - and it's all thanks to the Downton ...
Daily Mail, November 7th

'Hunt out sofas and chairs with decorative carving. Victorian wood furniture is solid as a rock,' says interior designer Phoebe Oldrey. 'Get them upholstered in bold fabrics to have as statement pieces.' Prices for Victorian furniture are a steal. You...Read more