Dating furniture by the carvings

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17th Century The early Jacobean period, starting around 1603, when James I came to the throne, represents a gradual change from Age of Oak Elizabethan exuberance to a less ornamented, quieter style.Table legs, for example became straighter and lost the large “melon” turnings that were typical of earlier pieces.The honest, four-square, if massive quality of this period was in part the inspiration for the Arts and Crafts style that appeared towards the end of the 19th century.Age of Walnut The term “Age of Walnut” is not so much descriptive of any particular style of furniture as it is a means of dating furniture — roughly from 1600 to 1730.Many other early Colonial era pieces, such as wainscot chairs and heavy joint-tables, are similarly in the Age of Oak tradition.By the end of the period, the influence of the British William and Mary style was being felt.

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Uncompromisingly rectangular, its distinctively carved frame-and-panel construction, although very reminiscent of earlier British Age of Oak pieces, is already recognizable as a distinct American style.The totally enclosed, frame-and-panel chair typical of the medieval period slowly gave way to a lighter version with turned or carved legs, but both are known as wainscot chairs, implying either that the oak used was imported from the Baltic or that the construction method was frame-and-paneling similar to the wall paneling of the period.Joined, frame-and-panel chests, in distinction to the solid-board chests of previous centuries, reached their peak in this period, and became the inspiration for various other developments such as settles, dressers, and cupboards.Later Jacobean furniture (during the time of Cromwell the Protector) was very stern, square, and frugal, as befitted a retreat into a time of righteous severity.But with the return of the monarchy under Charles II, Carolean furniture once again became much more ornate, characterized by intricate carved stretchers and colorful upholstery decorated with tasseled fringes.

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