Identifying Antiques- Chests, Panelling and Newel Post Lamps

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go into an antique shop or antique mall, peruse the objects the dealers have for sale, and not have to wonder about where they come from, how old are they, how were they used… and so on? Maybe it would be nice to know something about the objects you’re looking at. This Antique Expert Tip #5 post will identify three objects you may have seen on your travels and may have been curious about.

Original bride’s chest made in 1858

This lovely chest is all original and it has been in the same family since it was made in 1858. It has its original iron straps (inside, not shown) and handles on the sides. Original trunks of this type are unpainted on the back. The style of painting on this chest is known as Rosemaling and was common in that time period in Norway. Other countries have their own versions but their motifs are slightly different. Today there are artists who continue to specialize in this style of folk art.

If the chest has a flat top it is called a blanket chest. If it has a curved dome it is referred to as a bride’s chest. Dome-top construction required more skill on the part of the carpenter thus these trunks were more expensive to buy. Many of the trunks that have survived did so because, due to their curved tops, they were stored or placed on top of flat trunks., thereby protecting their painted finishes.

Linenfold panelling

‘Linenfold’ is a term used to describe the woodcarving detail above – it looks like a scroll of linen (note the ends of the scroll at each end) that has been folded back and forth. Purportedly originally from Northern Europe, this type of low relief was found on furniture and walls. You will often see it in churches as wainscotting. It was very popular in the 14th to 16th centuries then, like all decorative styles, it went out of favour. It was resurrected in the 19th century when Victorians embraced furniture in the Gothic and Tudor Revival styles. Linenfold was not that prevalent in North America so if the furniture piece is darkly stained and features linenfold panelling you can expect that it probably started its life in Europe.

Cherub newel post lamp

The lamp you see above was never meant to be a free standing lamp. It is not a parlour lamp although over the years many such lamps have ended up in parlours as free standing lamps. This lamp is known as a newel post light fixture. The newel post is the principal post or support at the base of a staircase. During the 19th century hallways and entrances had few pieces of furniture on which to place any type of light fixture so newel post lamps served that purpose by providing light in the rooms. They tend to be top heavy and this makes sense considering these fixtures were supported by mounting them directly onto the wooden newel post.

Check my next post for Antique Expert Tip #6 for three more items!

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