The Victorian Era, named after the prosperous and peaceful reign of England's Queen Victoria (1837-1901), is a rich and diverse area for collectors. From furniture to lamps, trade cards to prints, cuckoo clocks to music boxes, hatpins to belt buckles, there's a wide range of Victorian items to choose from.

According to Victorian furniture collector John Werry, the Victorian era encompasses aspects of numerous design movements. Gothic Revival, which began in the 18th century, was still going strong during the Victorian Era — the British Houses of Parliament, a good example of the style, were commissioned in 1836 and completed during Victoria’s reign.

French Rococo also left its mark on English furnishings and architecture from about 1840 until 1865. The Renaissance Revival (also known as Neo-Renaissance) followed until about 1890, when the Eastlake and Aesthetic movements took over. They, in turn, were the catalysts for the post-Victorian periods of Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts.

To contemporary eyes used to shopping for furnishings at Ikea, the Victorians with their mixing and matching of aesthetic styles probably seem desperately in need of simplification. They thought nothing of grabbing cultural influences from all corners of the British Empire. It was a great deal of style to reconcile.

Despite their eclecticism, orderliness was a paramount goal. To make the aesthetic even more complex, so was ornamentation. A bare room was considered to be in bad taste, so the Victorians filled them to bursting with elaborately ornamented wood-trimmed furniture by Allen and Brother, George Hunzinger, and Merklen Brothers; glass table lamps on bases of marble, brass, or both; and decorative ceramic Staffordshire figurines of barnyard animals, dogs, and popular historical characters.

The sideboard in the dining room (which in addition to the parlor was one of the few rooms most guests were permitted to see in the typical Victorian home) was particularly important. Fine Belleek china from Ireland would adorn its surface, Haviland china imported from Limoges, France, would be squirreled away within its cabinets, and Majolica pitchers and platters would be at the ready to serve and impress their guests.

Out of sight in the master’s library, you might find a millefiori paperweight or two. In the children’s room, you were sure to come across glistening glass marbles or elaborately costumed dolls with papier-mache, wood, or bisque heads...

Of course Victorian styles and practices were not limited to England. On the William Morris wallpapered walls of American homes during this period, it was common to see Currier and Ives lithographs depicting idealized visions of the good life in the New World. That same lithography made the distribution and collecting of colorful advertisements now known as trade cards possible.

Finally, no mention of the Victorian Era would be complete without acknowledging the profusion of objects of personal adornment that were producing during this period. Necklaces and earrings, of course, but also belt buckles, hatpins, brooches, and cameo rings. The Victorians also appear to have had a thing for buttons, some carved from pearls, others combining pearls with semi-precious metals.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

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]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Original 19th Century Portrait Painting 1800s Victorian Signed Antique Miniature French Victorian Screen Enamel Painting & Brass Clock1884 Victorian Cook Book Antique Recipes Pastry Confectionery Home DecorationAntique Victorian B1890 Solid Sterling Silver & Crocodile Skin Hip Spirit FlaskAntique Victorian Floral Sterling Silver Ladies Coin Change Purse 4 & 1/2" 98gmStunning Decorative Antique Victorian 1894 Solid Sterling Silver Table Snuff BoxGenuine Late Victorian Carriage Clock With Masked Dial And Filigree PanelsRare Early Railway Lamp Revolving Glass Coloured Lenses Victorian Railways? 190019th Century Victorian Signed Listed Oil Painting Gypsy Portrait Playing Cards19thc Antique Victorian Icon Mary Magdalene & Baby Jesus Religious Oil Painting1887 Victorian Writing Penmanship Letters Etiquette Manners Cook Book Home Farm Art Nouveau Victorian Antique French Silver Coin Chain Mesh Purse Bag(2) Antique 19thc Victorian Era Landscape Oil Painting Wood & Gesso Gilt Fram(2) Antique Victorian Era Primitive Landscape Old River Valley & Church PaintingAntique American Portrait Oil Painting J. H. Jolley Victorian Woman W/ FlowersFine Rare Old Antique Victorian 9 Carat Gold Micro Mosaic Pendant Locket & ChainVictorian 1888 Hallmarked Sterling Silver Cased Pocket Barometer By J.h. StewardRare! Antique 19thc Victorian Hand Blown Satin Art Glass Candle Fairy Lamp, NrStunning Victorian Art Nouveau Original Vaseline Glass Oil Lamp Shade C.1900Antique Aurora Victorian Aesthetic Silverplate Brides Basket Bowl Base W BirdsLetter Opener Dragon Claw Victorian Carnelian Banded Agate Stone Marble19th Century Victorian Signed Listed Oil Painting Child Boy Portrait Paton 1800sLignum Vitae Wooden Treen Victorian Antique Egg Thimble Case Box Holder SewingFine Rare Old Victorian 18 Carat Gold Fob Watch / Pocket Watch Oria Brooch1883 Heavy Victorian Hm Sterling Silver Belt Buckle Bracelet Old English BangleAntique Victorian Fine Lace Fichu/shawl Dublin Ireland Made Victorian British Infantry Officer's Sword, Scabbard, BagSweet Antique Blue Miniature Victorian Eapg Oil Lamp With Shade Aladdin KeroseenSmall Victorian Antique Silver Avitreus Pocket Watch Thermometer Maw MedicalAntique Victorian Huge Lot Lace Trim Bobbin Tambour Crochet Tatting 5 Pounds Antique Victorian German Carl Werner Deponirt Vienna Wall Clock 8 Day +key C1890Superb Victorian Burr Walnut Inlaid Writing Slope19thc Antique Victorian Estate Eastlake Incised Walnut Old Parlor Pier MirrorFine Brass Erhard & Sohne Victorian Antique Pipe Rack Gothic Arts And Crafts &Super Victorian Royal Tunbridge Wells Ware Tumbling Blocks Trinket Stamp Box NrAntique French Victorian Miniature Portrait Painting In Bronze Picture FrameGorgeous Victorian Style Satin Velvet Silk Embroidery Crazy Quilt Beautiful!!19thc Antique Victorian Era Hudson River Valley Landscape Americana Hrv PaintingFrench J Sommer Silver Shield Amber Meerschaum Figural Hand Victorian Briar PipeLarge Antique 19thc Old Victorian Acanthus Floral Gesso & Wood Painting FrameAntique 0.935 Silver Pocket/fob Watch. Stauffer & Co. Late Victorian. RunningVictorian Antique Brass Hand Letter Clip Paper Document Holder DesktopVictorian Guinness Irish Dog Beer Enamel Advertising Pub Bar Bottle Sign IrelandFine Pair Antique Victorian Aesthetic Brass Door Finger Plates 1878 FingerplatesVictorian Meriden Embossed Repousse Art Nouveau Tilting Tea Pot Coffee Pot19th Century Victorian Botanical Oil Painting Rose Flower Signed Sayer 1800sSuperb Antique Victorian Silver Plate Hamilton Bottle Stand 19thc Antique Victorian Era Jj O'connor Cobalt Elmira Ny Primitive Stoneare JugLg Antique Primitive 3 Gallon Cobalt Blue Victorian Stoneware Pottery Old JugMonocle Magnifying Reading Glasses 9ct Gold Victorian Antique Dandy SteampunkAntique Victorian Silver Top Ribbed Glass Match Striker Holder London 1900 Antique Victorian Mother Of Pearl Abalone Silver Mosaic Necessaire Needle Case Antique Victorian Papier Mache Face Screen Fan Painted Interior Church SceneAntique 19th Century Victorian Corkscrew Tire Bouchon Bottle Opener Cork StopperLarge 19thc Antique Victorian Figural Gilt Bronze Mirror Painting FrameAntique Victorian Satin Walnut Jewellery/sewing Box.c1860-1880 (code 314)Top Quality Large 24" Folding Rule Ruler Chamfered Edge Antique Victorian RaboneSuperb Victorian Burr Walnut Writing Slope With Secret DrawersLarge Pair Antique Architectural Wood Corbels Victorian Salvage Gingerbread 26"Vintage Architectural Salvage Set Of 6 Wood Victorian Porch Corbels Brackets