Antique Mahogany Furniture
Cabinet makers began to use mahogany wood in the early eighteenth century. It came to England from Cuba and Honduras in the West Indies. It has a distinctive reddish-brown colour with vigourous and attractive grain patterns, it is a hard wood that carves well.
The durability of mahogany means that there are still some beautiful pieces of antique mahogany furniture around today.
Eighteenth century cabinet makers began to experiment with new ways to extend dining tables previously drop leaf tables were supported by a hinged table leg; and that meant that large tables had many legs, which wasn’t comfortable for dinner guests. By the end of the eighteenth century new mechanisms had been invented, and mahogany tables were able to extend without the support of so many legs.
Chippendale and Hepplewhite are probably the most famous English chair designers. They worked through the middle and late Georgian period, and produced designs which are still in use today. Thomas Chippendale, the most celebrated of all English cabinet makers published a book in 1755 of his designs, “The Gentleman & cabinet-Maker’s Director “ which became very popular and these designs of his first period were used by many other cabinet makers in England. His mahogany chairs of the first period were elaborately carved in the rococo style featuring high backs and cabriole legs with scroll toes.
Likewise Hepplewhite, the successor to Chippendale also published a design book ‘The Cabinet Maker and Upholsters Guide.’ Hepplewhite’s chairs are well known for their shield shaped backs and tapered square legs , cabinet makers up and down the country copied the designs in this book .
Chest of drawers and cabinets
There are some beautiful examples of antique mahogany chests and cabinets for sale, especially from the Georgian period. The popular and more expensive shape was “serpentine” which was curved and elegant, although the feet were wide and sturdy. Wright and Elwick of Wakefield were prestigious furniture makers of the time and they designed furniture in the Chippendale style.
Mahogany mirrors were large with carved curving swirls. More expensive mirrors were made from elaborately carved pine and gilded with gold leaf, of these Chippendale designs were most fashionable and are still popular with collectors today.
Antique mahogany furniture is a wonderful investment, certain to last almost as many years to come as they have already. The wood has a beautiful grain pattern and patina and many of the designs will go well in even the most modern home. Peter Lipitch Antique’s in Fulham Road, SW3, has a wide selection of individual antique mahogany furniture pieces. Please visit us to find out more about our items or to speak to our expert team who can answer any questions you may have. If you prefer to browse our collection online, visit www.peter-lipitch-antique-furniture.com.
*Image on the left: AN UNUSUAL WINE WAITER (click to visit)
An unusual figured mahogany wine container, the revolving top with a door revealing a storage cupboard. The reverse side with an open shelf with a brass rail. Standing on a tripod base with brass castors.
illustrated page 255 “Great British Wine Accessories 1550-1900” by Robin Butler, Brown & Brown, 2009.