When buying Puritan furniture, you will need to know its distinguishing, identifiable characteristics in order to spot an original piece from a fake reproduction. Puritan furniture, also known as pilgrim or Cromwellian furniture, was made from 1649 to 1660 in England. In 1642 England, war erupted between Parliament and King Charles I. Parliament during this time was under the influence of the Puritans lead by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell established a Puritan run republic in London that lasted during the time of the production of Puritan furniture. Thus, Puritan furniture was given its name. Puritan furniture was reflective of the Puritan desire to throw out classic and Renaissance influences in decorative style. Puritan furniture is a return to a dark, more gothic-looking furniture that is representative of the time it was made.
Puritan furniture rarely used upholstery, fabric or wood carving in its design. The furniture had sharp angles and was designed more for everyday use in the 1600’s rather than for aesthetic appeal. In fact, ornamentation and lush fabrics were considered to be frowned about luxuries and were avoided in designing Puritan tables, benches and chairs The wood used in Puritan furniture will typically be oak that is stained a dark color. Some Puritan furniture was stained so dark it may appear to be black. The wood also had a low luster because high-gloss French polishing techniques had not been refined yet. However, the dark austerity of Puritan furniture is limited only to the tabletops, chair seats and chair backs of Puritan furniture. Strangely enough, the legs of Puritan chairs and tables are elegantly decorated with carved, spiral turn work.
The legs of Puritan tables and chairs were executed with delicate turned work. Turned work means the legs are carved in a bobbin spiral pattern that ends on a graceful foot.
Keep the characteristics and spiral turning techniques in mind when buying Puritan furniture and you will select authentic pieces to add to the character of your home.