It seems fitting that upon returning from the 4th of July holiday, I continue my blogging on period furniture and its hardware with an overview of the furniture of the Federal period, which was the first style of the newly formed United States of America. The Federal period is generally agreed upon to have begun in the 1780’s and ended in 1820. Neo-Classical influences of symmetry and balance are hallmarks of Federal period furniture design. Made from darker wood species, such as mahogany and cherry, Federal period furniture was delicate in design. Much of Federal period furniture was simple, however, decorative wood inlay patterns and intricate Greco-Roman motif carvings of urns, lyres, festoons, laurels and rosettes were also common embellishments.
Furniture hardware of Federal period furniture included distinctive bail pulls and knobs crafted from stamped brass. The two major types of furniture hardware of the Federal period where Hepplewhite pulls and Sheraton knobs.
Hepplewhite bail pulls were popular at the start of the Federal period through 1810. Hepplewhite furniture drawer pulls typically had cast brass “D” shaped drop pulls hung from posts attached to oval or round stamped brass backplates. Although Hepplewhite often had simple backplates adorned with concentric circles, more elaborate backplates stamped with neo-classical motifs such as Grecian urns, lyres, and laurels have come to epitomize reproduction Hepplewhite bail pulls.
Sheraton knobs gained popularity at the beginning of the 19th century and remained popular through 1820, the end of the Federal period. Sheraton knobs had stamped brass round knob tops with stamped brass round backplates. Although Sheraton knob backplates typically had simple concentric circle designs, the knobs’ faces were stamped with floral or patriotic designs.
For more information about hardware from the Federal period, see our blog post entitled; “Shop 4 Classics Reviews Federal Era Hardware”.
The Victorian period with its over-the-top ornate furniture designs followed the comparatively austere style of Federal period furniture. In an upcoming post, I’ll provide an overview of the variety of styles of Victorian furniture hardware.