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American Empire (1800-1840)

American Empire is moderate in proportion with classical ornamentation, coarse carving, and a dark finish. It is patterned after French Empire with classical influences.



Appearance
Graceful and Refined - Elegant appearance.

(Federal style shown)

Chair Arms
Slightly Curved - Arms are slightly curved.

Chair Back Material
Upholstered - Cushioned and fabric covered.
Wood - Solid wood, horizontal slats, vertical slats, or vertical splats.

Chair Back Shape
Crosspiece - Single flat vertical slat.
Fiddleback - Fiddle-shaped central splat.
Solid - One piece or solid panel chair back.

Chair Leg
Reeded - Rounded decorative grooved or molding.
Restrained Cabriole - Cabriole leg with a rather straight shape.
Round - Round, usually shaped or turned leg.
Simple turning - Turned leg with a few types of turnings.
Splayed - Leg with a concave shape.
Straight - Straight leg, vertical to chair seat.
Tapered - Straight leg gradually decreasing in width.

Chair Seat Material
Cane - Woven rattan.
Rush - Woven rush.
Upholstered - Cushioned and covered with fabric.
Wood - Various types of wood.

Chair Seat Shape
Square - Square shaped seat.

Drawer Pull
Brass Knob - Mushroom-shaped brass knob.
Glass Knob - Mushroom-shaped or round glass knob, often clear or iridescent.
Loop Handle - Bail handle without a back plate, 3.5 to 4.5 inches wide.
Oval Stamped Brass Back Plate with Bail - Oval back plate of stamped brass with conforming handle. The size varies from 3 to 4 inches wide by 2 to 2.5 inches high.
Rectangular Plate with Bail - Rectangular back plate of solid stamped brass, often with canted corners and an oval bail handle. The size varies from 3 to 4 inches wide to 2 to 2.5 inches high.
Rosette - Round 2-inch knob in the shape of a flower, usually in brass or glass.
Wooden Mushroom-Shaped Knob - Mushroom-shaped wooden knob, often 1 inch high and 1.5 to 2.5 inches in diameter.

Fabric
Brocade - Rich, heavily woven fabric with a raised design, often with gold or silver thread.
Damask - Medium weight, glossy fabric with a reversible pattern and a figured intricate weave, often of linen, cotton, silk, or wool.
Velvet - Woven pile fabric that is soft and sturdy, often made of silk with blends of cotton, nylon, and rayon.

Finish
Gilding - Gold leaf.
Oil Varnish - Clear finish that emphasized the grain of the wood.
Paint - Opaque, pigmented finish that obscures the grain of the wood.

Foot
Brass Paw or Claw - Animal paw or claw in brass.
Continuation of leg - Leg does not terminate into a foot.
Lion Paw - Carved lion's foot.
Paw or Claw - Carved animal paw or claw.
Scroll - Inward curving foot with a loosely coiled appearance.

Hardware Material
Brass - Yellowish metal made from copper and zinc.
Glass - Transparent to translucent.
Wood - Various types of wood, carved or turned.

Joint
Dovetail - An interlocking wood joint in which a series of wedge-shaped projections fits into a series of alternating grooves.

Line
Straight - Straight lines.

Motif
Acanthus Leaf - Conventionalized leaf.
Cornucopia - Horn with fruit or flowers.
Eagle - National emblem of the United States.
Pineapple - Oval-shaped tropical fruit.
Scroll - Form resembling a roll of parchment paper.
Star - Figure having five or six symmetrically projecting points.
Urn - Vase-shaped figure.

Ornamentation
Carving - Cutting or chipping the surface of wood to create a shape or design.
Fluting - Carved or molded vertical channels.
Reeding - Parallel lines of rounded molding.
Stenciling - Painting through a template to create a shape or design on the underlying wood surface.
Supporting Column - Decorative column often fluted affixed to the front corners of case furniture, particularly bureaus.

Proportion
Medium - Moderate dimensions.

(Queen Anne style shown)

Underbracing
Moderate - Moderately proportioned stretchers.

(William and Mary style shown)

Wood
Black Walnut - Dark brown American hardwood with a wide range of figures.
Cherry - Red-brown American hardwood.
Mahogany - Red-brown South American and African hardwood.
Maple - Golden to Red-brown American hardwood with a wide range of figures.
Maple Veneer - Golden to Red-brown American hardwood with a wide range of figures, used in thinly sliced sheets.
Rosewood Veneer - Purple-brown South American hardwood with black streaks that can be highly polished.


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