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    

Antique Victorian 6-panel Kpm Porcelain Lithophane Lamp Shade NrFine Antique Victorian Lava Cameo Brooch C1840 Jewellery Lion No Reserve!C1860 English French Victorian Gold Bronze Serpent Figur Candelabra CandlesticksExceptonal Pair C1860 Victorian Gold Gilt Bronze Figural Candelabra CandlesticksFinec1890 Victorian French Gilt Bronze Lion Figural Wall Sconce Candelabra LampsVictorian Beatrice Antique Pocket Needle Case H Milward Armorial Arm Box TinLarge C1880 Victorian French Gilt Bronze Candelabra Candlesticks BarbedienneAntique Victorian Pocket Compensated Barometer Gilded Working Mountain Table Massive Victorian Meerschaum & Amber Pipe In The Form Of A Ladies Head.1890's 14" Victorian Miller Slag Art Glass Hanging Parlor Oil LampVictorian Antique Writing Slope Stationary Inkwell Pen Wooden Box George CatorGreat 1893 Victorian London Repousse Sterling Silver & Deeply Cut Glass InkwellLarge Antique Victorian St George Ebony & Boxwood Complete Chess Set & BoardExquisite 19th Century Victorian Beaded Beadwork, Berlin Woolwork Flowers FruitStunning Old 19th C Victorian Silver & Enamel Christmas Robin Bird Brooch (a3)Exqusite Victorian English Enameled Bronze Figural Inkwell Candlesticks Desk SetChambers Bartleet Royal Sewing Needle Case Packets Victorian Case Flowers BoxBradley Hubbard Arts Crafts Slag Glass Antique Victorian Handel Era Panel Lamp Antique Victorian Art Nouveau Handel Gwtw Globe Parlor Oil Lamp Shade W FlowersAntique Victorian Winter Snow Scene Old Primitive Painting Checkers Game BoardMordan Miniature Silver Birds Egg Perfume Scent Bottle Superb Victorian AgateGreat Assembled Set 4 Tall Victorian Silver Plate Corinthian Column CandlesticksGenuine Antique Victorian Elliott Brothers London Pocket Drum Sextant MilitaryStunning Antique Victorian Fine Micro Bead Bag / Purse With Long Beaded HandleLg Antique Cast Iron Figural Devil Head Old Gothic Victorian Estate Door Knocker19thc Antique Victorian Girl & Dog Primitive Folk Art Old Oil Portrait PaintingElegant 15ct Gold Victorian Bramah Dip Pen Armorial Arrow Seal Chalcedony Stone Rare Mars Skeleton Victorian Antique Pocket Folding Binoculars Opera Glasses Stunning Unusual Victorian Bright Cut Silver & Coral Spider Insect Brooch (c19)Incredble Very Large Victorian Walker & Hall Silver Plate Soup Chili Tureen Bowl1870's -1890's Victorian B&h Brass Wall Mount Bracket Oil Lamp Holder Beautifully Engraved Solid Silver Victorian Card Case George Unite 1876Antique Mid-c19th Victorian Fully Hallmarked 15ct Gold Diamond & Turquoise Ring!Fine Victorian Carved Brise Painted Wedding Fan Eventail Chinese Interest C.1860C1850 French Victorian Gold Gilt Bronze Figural Maiden Candleabra CandlesticksGorgeousc1893 Victorian English Melon Form Silver Plate Bun Warmer Server Basket19thc Antique Victorian Era Seascape Old Sailboat & Waves Maritime Oil Painting18ct Gold & Steel Victorian Sewing Embriodery Stork Needle Scissors Etui Tool 19thc Antique Wood & Bronze Gothic Victorian Planter W/ Majolica Panels, NrVictorian C 1865 Meissen Dresden Porcelain Candelabra Candlestick Holder #1 YqzAntique Victorian Stereoscope Graphoscope Viewer Rowsell Type Folding ModelEnglish Estate Pipe: Gbd Made In Paris Victorian Era Meerschaum Cased C. 1880sLarge Victorian Carved Brise Faux Tortoiseshell Fan Eventail Chinese InterestVry Nice Victorian Silver Plate Figural Nautilus Seashell Form Spoon Warmer Bowl19thc Antique Victorian Era English Street Vender Cityscape Folk Art PaintingAntique Victorian Bullseye Condensing Lens/desk Top Magnifying Glass.Lovely Victorian Solid Silver & Faux Tortoiseshell Snuff Trinket Box 1891Antique Victorian Mahogany Dark Wood Inlaid Edge Tea Caddy Box/casketAntique Victorian Corkscrew With Brush, Ring & Dogtooth Cork TurnerAntique Vtg Victorian Brass 4 Arm Chandelier Light Fixture Fleur De LisVery Rare Antique Victorian Burr Walnut Stationery Writing Slope Compendium Box Antique Victorian 1854 Hallmarked Mappin & Webb Silver Travel Communion Wine Set1m Exquisite 19th Century Victorian Silk Patchwork Quilt Panel 2, Dated 1840V. Large Antique Victorian Papier Mache Vanity Perfume Scent Bottle Tantalus BoxA Fabulous Mid C19th Victorian Era Silver Mounted Scottish Banded Agate Brooch!!Heavy Victorian Copper Kitchen Roasting Pan By Army & Navy Store LondonVintage Antique Figural Victorian Lady Corkscrew Carved Bone Pair Of Gothic Tracery Carved Oak Panels Victorian Medieval CarvingV.large C1880 Victorian Silver Plate Scotish Thistle Figural Tipping Tea KettleAntique 20thc Victorian Solid Silver Pair Of Large Candlesticks C.1900