What Is Early American Furniture?


Early American furniture is a popular style, especially with homeowners who have an older Colonial house. Early American furniture is thick and heavy with straight lines. It has little ornamental elements, but provides a rustic feel when it is sealed with a wax or light varnish.


  • Early American furniture refers to the style that was popular in the colonies before the country was established. Early American pieces were produced between 1640 and 1700. This style is often modeled after older European styles, but constructed in a simple way with straight lines and less ornamentation. Most of the early American style was made from local woods that the colonists had easy access to.


  • There are only a few types of early American furniture. Most of the furniture was functional rather than decorative. Tables, chairs and dressers can all be found in the early American style. Most of these pieces were created from solid wood and may be stained with oil varnish or painted. Some of the pieces will have a little bit of ornamentation, but this was usually found on and around drawer pulls. These added touches were often diamonds, flowers and circles.


  • Some early American pieces that are still widely available through antique dealers are chests and trunks made from pine and oak. Other pieces that have survived for nearly 400 years include tables and beds. The tables are often large, heavy pieces made from solid wood. The tables may also be rather long to accommodate many people. Some colonial furniture may also have leather or linen fabric as a decorative element.

    Some of the furniture makers of this period include John Townsend, John Goddard and Thomas Dennis.


  • Fewer than ten types of wood were commonly used to make early American furniture. Most of the furniture was made from ash, pine, oak and maple. Other woods used less regularly include hickory, sycamore, elm and birch. The type of wood used in this furniture depended on the origin of the piece since most colonists used what grew in their area.


  • An original early American piece of furniture in good condition can be worth $100-$700. Since early American furniture is very sturdy, even many damaged pieces can easily be repaired and repainted to fit modern needs. Early American pieces that still have original stenciling or hardware may be worth much more.

    Chairs are a big item for furniture collectors. Many original early American chairs have not been left in original condition. Many of these chairs have also been reproduced, but an expert can easily tell the difference between an original and a reproduction.

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  • Photo Credit www.americaslibrary.gov/
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