Early American Furniture

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Early American Furniture In this paper, I will discuss early American Furniture from the early 17th century through the late 19th century. I will explore the design characteristics of each period, as well as form, color and texture, design principles, cultural influences and meaning. Some of the pieces I will cover range greatly in style and variety, from the mundane or somewhat simple pieces, to the richly crafted pieces that have helped shape and define the style and taste of American culture. When the two earliest American colonies were founded, James I was the reigning monarch in England. The term Jacobean is used to describe the earliest American furniture, although the term 17th century is used to denote the period because this early type of colonial furniture is derived from a combination of several earlier designs sources. At the end of the 16th century, the Italian Renaissance was in full swing, so to speak, and this new style of furniture began to appear in English furniture designs. These elements of design and construction were then transplanted to America. “Heavy, turned baluster supports, flattened bun feet, and arcaded panels replaced the traditional medieval linen fold patterns, although paneled construction described below remained in use.” (Butler, p.20) Some of the general features of 17th century furniture were the use of mainly Oak and Pine woods, because they were widely available in large quantities in both England and America. Woods such as Ash and Maple were also used because they were easily turned on a lathe and whittled (wood carving). Also to be noted, much of 17th century furniture was originally painted, stained, oiled, or varnished, because this was an efficient way to cover the exposed wood from the elements and damage that time can cause. “The best paints for furniture decorating were those ground in oil…It was
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