When you want to refinish old wooden furniture, the best place to look is the family storeroom: Check the attic, basement, garage, or wherever unwanted furniture has collected.You may also discover a real antique or two -- pieces handed down through the family for generations.When it comes to antiques, Americans are babes in the woods.The earliest furniture documented as having been made on these shores dates from about 1650 - a mere three and a half centuries of cabinetry.Many examples of American Empire cabinetmaking are characterized by antiquities-inspired carving, gilt-brass furniture mounts, and decorative inlays such as stamped-brass banding with egg-and-dart, diamond, or Greek-key patterns, or individual shapes such as stars or circles.The most elaborate furniture in this style was made around 1815-25, often incorporating columns with rope-twist carving, animal-paw feet, anthemion, stars, and acanthus-leaf ornamentation, sometimes in combination with gilding and vert antique (antique green, simulating aged bronze).
As the dovetail joint evolved through the last one hundred thirty years, it becomes a clue for the age and authenticity of antique furniture.
The type of dovetailed joint, especially in drawers, reveals much about furniture construction and dating.
With just a little study of these examples, it is easy to spot true hand made construction vs. The name dovetail comes from the appearance of the joint, resembling the triangle shape of a bird's tail.
The Red Room at the White House is a fine example of American Empire style.
A simplified version of American Empire furniture, often referred to as the Grecian style, generally displayed plainer surfaces in curved forms, highly figured mahogany veneers, and sometimes gilt-stencilled decorations.