Every piece of furniture has a practical purpose regardless of how simple or grand it is, even if some pieces were built more for display than function. Today, furniture remains one of the largest areas of the antiques market and items are categorised by type and period.

The term brown furniture refers to traditional pieces made from dark woods such as mahogany, while pieces made from native woods like oak and walnut are sometimes referred to as vernacular furniture.

Famous historical makers include Chippendale, Gillows, William Vile and John Cobb. More recent market trends have seen modern vintage pieces appearing in specialist design and ‘Interior’ auctions.

Syonara to an architectural antique dynasty

10 September 2002

WHEN Tom Crowther founded Crowther of Syon Lodge dealing in antique chimneypieces in 1876, the prevailing design trends were moving from Gothic Revival to Aesthetic, and over the next 125 years the Middlesex firm have serviced every subsequent design trend.

Ebonised Japanesque cabinet

10 September 2002

A 19th century Aesthetic movement ebonised Japanesque cabinet was orginally housed in the Yorkshire home of a Mr Mossman, a wealthy Leeds wool merchant. When he moved from his house in Menston, near Ilkley, the cabinet passed into the hands of the new owner, the well-known music critic Ernest Bradbury and has passed by descent ever since.

A choice of chairs from Victorian to Art Deco

03 September 2002

THE Essex auctioneers Ambrose had hoped the unusual top lot in their 561-lot sale on 19-20 July would fetch more, but bidding on the set of ten gothic-style Victorian mahogany dining chairs was hampered by their non-commercial design.

Eames’ chairs are design icons but recliners decline in the age of online

29 August 2002

ONE of the most widely recognised furniture designs of the 20th century, Ray and Charles Eames’ reclining chair and ottoman, designed in 1956 for the film director Billy Wilder, has also been among the most mass produced. Every second-hand design shop in Britain will either stock a copy, or will tell you they have just sold one, but the recent proliferation of online warehouse retailers has stabilised the price for modern copies at around £2000.

Big Brother – the bailiffs were watching you…

28 August 2002

BIG BROTHER winner Kate Lawler is rumoured to want to hold her sister’s wedding reception in the hi-tech TV house, but she may find the Hertfordshire home-from-home that was her prison for so long is a little more spartan than when she was incarcerated there…

Everything stopped for tea

28 August 2002

TIME stood still at WTM Snape’s Tea and Coffee Merchants of Queen Street, Wolverhampton. For well over a century it has been one of the best preserved old shops left in Britain – apart from the installation of electric light, and a Hobart electric coffee grinder in the 1970s, nothing much has changed in the emporium, founded in the early 19th Century.

‘Jerusalem’ davenport sees £6200

14 August 2002

MALLAMS 463-lot Gloucestershire auction on June 28 (15% buyer's premium) included one of the Victorian olivewood pieces inscribed Jerusalem which have made a couple of startling prices of late.

Vendors drop targets in new mood of reality

13 August 2002

WITH a 96 per cent success rate after the June 13 sale, Bristol’s Clevedon Salerooms (15% buyer’s premium) seem to have convinced vendors of the realities of the market which means not everything makes its estimate.

Stable market

13 August 2002

SEVERAL pieces of mahogany furniture from a dilapidated stables near Weybridge provided the core to this 544-lot auction at Ewbank Auctioneers, Woking on June 27 (15% buyer's premium).

Dutch treats from the stately white elephant…

13 August 2002

THE WEST Country is not the antiques wilderness it is sometimes painted but a relatively sparse population means that auctioneers cannot simply rely on local solicitors to provide the deceased estates. Networking the landed gentry at cocktail parties or hunt meetings is part of the social round for any flourishing local auctioneer and such contacts regularly pay dividends for Duke’s rooms in Dorchester.

From coffins to coffers…

13 August 2002

CYPRESS wood was more commonly used for coffins than coffers in medieval times, but this Charles I example, right, showed why the Mediterranean hardwood was a popular medium for domestic furnishings.

Hard-hit dealers respond to the great outdoors

30 July 2002

WITH the furniture trade in a selective mood after a patchy round of June fairs, Bonhams relied upon local private buyers and international shippers to purchase the top pieces of furniture at their three-day Chester sale from 26-28 June.

Phillips drop furniture auctions

29 July 2002

PHILLIPS, de Pury & Luxembourg have closed their French and Continental Furniture department with the departure of its head, Thierry Millerand.

Young Americans

26 July 2002

American Insider’s Guide to Twentieth-Century Furniture by John and Nan Sollo published by Miller’s. ISBN 1840003790 £17.99hb

Reminder of grate expectations…

17 July 2002

DEALERS and salvage experts are being reminded that they must adhere to strict new rules over the installation of antique fireplaces. The Guild of Fireplace Installers have sent out reminders that, under new legislation introduced on April 1, all fireplace installations, antique or reproduction, whether intended for solid fuel, oil or gas, must be fitted by a “competent person under the Buildings Regulation Act 2000”.

English bias brings very mixed results

17 July 2002

Although billed as English and Continental furniture, and Works of Art Bonhams’ (17.5/10 % buyer’s premium) sale on June 11 was very much slated towards the home market, with English fare accounting for around 100 of the 153 lots.

Chippendale connection brings £16,000 bid

17 July 2002

WHILE trade buying was a feature of their capital’s main June important furniture sale, it was less evident earlier in the month at Sotheby’s (19.5/10% buyer’s premium), Bond Street, Croft Castle auction on June 6, that offered buyers a more middle range selection of English brown furniture from the Herefordshire estate of the late Lord Croft.

Quality gets the stamp of approval

12 July 2002

Size was certainly a feature of Christie’s South Kensington (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) mammoth gathering of furniture and works of art held on June 12, but so was variety.

Themes and Variations on a Rondo Veneziano

12 July 2002

LONDON: NOTTING Hill specialists in 20th century and contemporary design Themes and Variations hold an exhibition of Italian furniture and glass design at their gallery at 231 Westbourne Grove, London W11 from September 27 to October 19.

Passport from Pimlico…

12 July 2002

PIMLICO dealer Alexander von Moltke has formed a partnership with the Manhattan interior designers Robert Marinelli and Michael Reeves who operate as RMMR.