Chippendale Furniture – How to Spot it


Thomas Chippendale

Thomas Chippendale was a Yorkshire-born cabinet maker and furniture designer born in 1718. He moved to London and was the first cabinet maker to write a book on the subject. It was titled ‘The Gentleman and cabinet maker’s director.’

Chippendale’s furniture style is one of the most famous of the last few centuries, combining Rococo, gothic and Chinese themes to create a worldwide loved design.

Wood Used By Thomas Chippendale

Chippendale’s best quality furniture uses mahogany wood. Mahogany is a brown/red durable hardwood, perfect for carving beautiful cabinets, tables and chairs. Original 18th-century Chippendales are scarce, but modern Chippendale replicas feature the same characteristics and use mahogany. Some less precious Chippendale or Chippendale replica pieces are made from woods such as walnut, maple and cherry.

Thomas Chippendale Furniture Characteristics

Chippendale furniture has distinct characteristics that allow a trained eye to recognise them. The key things to look for when assessing a potential Chippendale piece are:

  • Wooden lattices
  • S-shaped curves
  • Pointed arches
  • Fluted and reeded legs
  • Ball and claw feet
  • Cabriole legs
  • Rococo legs
  • Fine silk upholstery
  • Yoke-shaped markings on chairs
  • Shell-shaped designs
  • Ribbon motifs on chairs

Many Chippendale replicas will have these features, so if you are unsure of authenticity, consult an antique specialist, such as Abbey Antiques, for advice. The piece’s attributes may vary depending on where the item is from, with American and British designs differing. However, all should feature one or more of the above characteristics.

Chippendale Inspiration

Thomas Chippendale’s furniture style has inspired designs from the 18th century, with replicas being produced until the 20th century. These pieces hold high value but will not be as intricately designed, valuable and sought after as the 18th-century originals.

You can see Chippendale’s influence in modern designs worldwide, with many of his distinctive design features complimenting new furniture in homes and businesses. This durable, unique and attractive furniture brings style and elegance to a setting. It is easy to see why these beautiful furniture pieces remain a prevalent choice for many. These pieces should be cared for correctly.

If you have a Chippendale-style piece of furniture, contact an antique professional for advice on reupholstering and refinishing. Attempting to do this without the necessary knowledge could harm and devalue your furniture.

Contact Abbey Antiques to enquire about our specialist antique services on 01708 741135.