Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806), was an English furniture designer, and Baptist minister, born in Stockton-on-Tees. He appears to have lived in near poverty all his life. Around 1790 he began to work in London as a furniture designer and teacher of drawing. No furniture by his own hand has been identified; his reputation rests chiefly on The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book, (1793-1794), a practical guide for cabinet makers and their clients which sums up the refined English Neo-Classical taste of the 1790s. It did much to disseminate what has become known as the Sheraton style, not just in Britain but throughout Europe and in North America.
Sheraton furniture is characterized by its careful, rectilinear proportions and fine workmanship. Chairs with mainly straight rails and small decorative tablets in the backs are typical; seats are given generously deep upholstery, while legs are tapered, straight or turned: not a cabriole is to be seen. Cabinet pieces have rounded corners, convex or concave shaping, with pilasters and fluting. Mechanical contrivances and tambour doors were much favoured and so were silks—in festoons and swags for beds, and in pleats behind the glass doors of cabinets. Mahogany, satinwood, and other finely figured hardwoods were used; marquetry decoration is restrained, sometimes giving way to painted flowers or classical subjects on the most exuberant pieces.
Furniture in the Sheraton style includes Sheraton openfront bookcases, breakfront bookcases, desks, chests and commodes. Period Sheraton pieces command high fees.