The Complete Guide to Buying Antique Edwardian Chairs

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The Complete Guide to Buying Antique Edwardian Chairs
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The Complete Guide to Buying Antique Edwardian Chairs

An antique Edwardian chair can lighten up a room with refined elegance and appeal. This period chair is notable for its lighter aesthetic style compared to the dark stains and bulky construction of its Victorian predecessors. Bright colours, lightweight fabrics, and furniture designed with delicate lines and floral fabrics, set the standard in this period. Influenced by Neoclassical and Art Deco trends, antique Edwardian chairs use an eclectic mix of styles to bring an original look to any room. Whether it's a light chair made of bamboo or wicker, or a fun upholstered piece, a cheery Edwardian chair can make a great furniture component to a study, bedroom or lounge. Encompassing many fashionable furniture styles, a well-chosen Edwardian chair has an air of authentic history without pretension, designed to be enjoyed. Understanding the various styles and characteristics that are unique to these chairs can make purchasing an antique Edwardian chair a fun and rewarding process.

History of Antique Edwardian Chairs   

The Edwardian period ran from 1901 to 1910, following the reign of Edward VII of England. A time of booming industrialisation, furniture-making had become relegated to mechanised factories for increased efficiency. In this sense, the Edwardian period is a bridge era between hand-crafted chairs and mass-produced designs, so a chair from this time may be one or the other. Also during this time, antiques were popular and a period of revivals emerged to cater to this hungry market. Georgian, Renaissance and Tudor chair styles were highly coveted styles that skilled craftsmen tried to replicate to the best of their ability. Avant-guard modern furniture movements like Art Nouveau and Art Deco also added to the eclectic mix of styles during the Edwardian period.

Spanning a relatively short length of time, the Edwardian period defined much of its style in contrast to the preceding Victorian period. While the Victorian period was a time of heavy, dark furniture with intricate details, the Edwardian era ushered in lighter styles and materials to do away with the Victorian's long-standing furniture aesthetic.

Discover Antique Edwardian Chairs

One of the last chair styles classifiable as an antique, due to the definition of the age of an antique as 100 years and older, Edwardian chairs represent the transition from traditional to modern furniture design. The airy, bright decoration of antique Edwardian chairs can add a lift to any room's decor. Some chairs will be considerably cheaper and more easily accessible to furniture buyers and antique collectors alike. Representing a breakage with the heavy, dark styles of Victorian furniture, antique Edwardian chairs offer a refreshing and cheerful aesthetic that is still steeped in history and tradition. This period embraced many revivals, such as Georgian and Queen Anne styles, while also bringing out its own modern ideas like Art Nouveau. The Edwardian period serves as a great opportunity to buy more affordable, high-quality chairs in a traditional style that's built with the modern home and functionality in mind. As such, there are plenty of options to choose from, at a greatvalue.

Parts of Antique Edwardian Chairs

Defined by an eclectic period of intersecting styles, an antique Edwardian chair could have some or none of these typical parts.

Part

Description

Materials

Mahogany, walnut, oak, wicker or bamboo.

Legs

Square and tapered, curving or cabriole legs.

Arms

Simpler styles may not have arms. Armchairs typically have rolled arms.

Back

Typically straight, upright rectangular backs. Upholstery backs are less frequently used in this period.

Inlays

Often made with satinwood and/or ebony, inlay patterns may include fan, swag, festoon and string - or a combination of these together.

Types of Antique Edwardian Chairs

With a blend of new and old styles, antique Edwardian chairs may follow a particular furniture design from the past, or a popular emerging trend.

Type

Description

Advantages

Considerations

Arts and Crafts (Mission Style)

Focus on simplicity and proportion made with strong hardwoods. If upholstered, use of leather instead of fabric.

Sturdily built with a simpler, easy to match style.

Might not be decorative enough for more formal rooms.

Art Nouveau

Curving lines, leaf and flower motifs, and floral feminine figures in designs. Combined Rococo, Baroque, Gothic and Japanese styles. 

A highly decorative style infused with organic lines to evoke a sense of the natural world. Although quite elaborate, it may work in more casual rooms too.

An unwieldy style that may be hard to coordinate with other furniture pieces. 

Chippendale

Usually made with mahogany in a square shape, featuring more ornate cabriole legs with ball and claw feet. Rococo carvings on the back.

An ornate style of chair that can dress up a dining table, living room or bedroom.

Casually decorated rooms could probably use a less ornate style.

Hepplewhite

A lighter style chair than Chippendale with straight legs tapering down. Simpler design with a shield (oval) back and classic motifs. 

Popular dining chair style, this chair has a simpler design that can match easily with most furniture arrangements.

A basic style that might not fit with more formal rooms.

Queen Anne

A lighter, comfort-oriented chair with a focus on curving lines rather than ornament, although it dos have elements of the Baroque. Finished with cabriole legs and a cushioned seat. Walnut as the preferred wood.

Comfortable and ornate, this chair delivers an understated opulence that can fit in with almost any thoughtfully styled room.

Some of the more elaborate styles might be too formal for a more casual room.

Factors to Consider When Buying Antique Edwardian Chairs

The following list provides a few important factors to consider when buying an antique Edwardian chair.

  • Age – earlier Edwardian chairs may be considered antiques, while ones crafted in the later years of the period may be considered vintage. The age of the chair also may affect the value.
  • Condition - Some lighter materials that were popular in the Edwardian period, such as wicker or bamboo, may develop signs of wear earlier than sturdier hardwood chairs. Any upholstery should be checked for wear, along with scratches and signs of rust on the metal. 
  • Style - there are many styles that can make up an antique Edwardian chair. Whether it's an avant-garde or traditional style, the Edwardian period covered many different styles and designs.

Typical Features of Antique Edwardian Chairs

1. Blend of old and new

Antique Edwardian chairs continued the Victorian tradition of reviving style traditions, and also saw the creation of new modern trends like Art Nouveau.

2. A lighter aesthetic

In contrast to the dark woods and veneers, clunky shapes, and intricate prints of the Victorian era, antique Edwardian chairs tend to have a lighter, more cheerful look that makes a break with the past.

3. Veneer

Most pieces were veneered on a mass-produced level. Veneered inlays were also very popular.

How to Care for Antique Edwardian Chairs

Avoid placing chairs in direct sunlight or in rooms where there are sharp fluctuations in temperature, because this will bleach and damage the wood over time. The use of a humidifier or dehumidifier is recommended to regulate the levels of moisture in the air, as inconsistencies can cause wood to expand and contract, disrupting components in the chair and ruining the veneer. Rather than using damaging furniture oils, try a furniture wax or beeswax about once a year to restore the finish of the wood.

Wicker furniture should be vacuumed in between the pieces with an extension brush. In cases of mould, wash wicker immediately with a mix of mould cleaner (that is suitable for valuable wicker) and water and let air dry for one to three days. Clean spills with a diluted amount of light detergent or furniture oil soap on a cloth.

Popular Antique Edwardian Chair Manufacturers

Whilst there were many producers of antique Edwardian chairs, many were large manufacturers. The following provides a brief list of well-known furniture makers who used hand-made designs.

  • Charles Rennie MackIntosh
  • Thomas Sheraton
  • George Hepplewhite
  • William Morris
  • Gustav Stickley

Accessories and Add-ons for Antique Edwardian Chairs

  • Maintain antique Edwardian chairs with the help of some of the following products.
  • Furniture oil soap for cleaning wicker
  • Soft cloth for dusting
  • Furniture wax or beeswax for wood
  • Pillows for simpler furniture or wicker chairs

Finding Antique Edwardian Chairs on eBay

Once you determine the type of antique Edwardian chair you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on 'Chairs', then 'Edwardian' and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Antique Edwardian Chairs on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique Edwardian chairs. For example, to find revival styles of antique Edwardian chairs, type 'Revival Edwardian Chairs' into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for antique Edwardian chairs with keywords. If you can’t find the exact antique Edwardian chair you want, try shopping eBay Stores.

Conclusion

Simpler, brighter and efficiently made, an antique Edwardian chair can integrate easily into most rooms in the modern home. The proper care of an antique chair will keep it looking great for generations to come. Understanding the popular influences, styles, and types of Edwardian chairs helps narrow down the search and make the purchasing process a little easier. Once you have collected this information, you can buy an antique Edwardian chair safely and securely on eBay.

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