The early American colonial period holds a significant place in the history of furniture hardware. The colonial period marks the time of the initial European settlement in North America, which lasted from the late 16th century to the year 1776. Furniture items during the colonial period were typically made from durable and local hardwoods. These pieces of furniture were then adorned with hardware that was imported primarily from Europe, including brass and iron. Furniture hardware played an essential role during this period, both in terms of function and aesthetics. This article will provide a detailed exploration of the furniture hardware of the early American colonial period.
The early American colonial period was a time of innovative development in furniture making. The colonists brought their varying styles of furniture to America when they settled there. Initially, furniture items were primarily built for practical reasons since the settlers needed durable and functional furniture pieces to furnish their homes. The use of hardwoods such as oak, cherry, and pine made the furniture pieces incredibly sturdy and long-lasting.
As European influence continued, the furnishings soon began to emphasize styling and adornment. Furniture hardware played a crucial role during this period, as it was used to add decoration, create balance, and provide functionality to the furniture pieces. The use of brass, iron, and other metals became increasingly common to distinguish each piece of furniture from one another, which only added to the uniqueness of the colonial period furniture.
Furniture Hardware of the Early American Colonial Period:
The furniture hardware of the early American colonial period is a reflection of the styles of Europe, where much of the hardware was sourced from. The following is a comprehensive discussion of the various furniture hardware items common in the early American colonial period:
- Hinges: Hinges are essential components of any piece of furniture, especially cabinets. During the early American colonial period, most hinges were made from iron. They were made using the blacksmithing technique of creating unique designs that fit the purpose of the furniture. The hinges featured elaborate, decorative designs, and the finishing was done in black, which was the most common color. All hinges featured round shapes, with few square designs.
- Locks: Locks were used in cabinet doors, drawers, and other furniture items that required storage. During the early colonial period, locks were typically made from iron and brass. The locks were functional and featured simple designs made from brass. Each lock had unique patterns, making it possible to identify each piece of furniture easily.
- Drawer pulls: Drawer pulls were another piece of furniture hardware that played a significant role in the colonial period. During this period, drawer pulls were commonly made from brass, although iron and wood were also used in some instances. As with all other items of hardware, the drawer pulls featured unique designs, with the most common featuring circular shapes with elaborate details.
- Hinges and locks: In some instances, hinges and locks were combined in the same piece of hardware to add functionality to a particular piece of furniture. These combined pieces of hardware were typically made from iron due to its durability and strength. During this period, the hinges and locks featured unique designs, which made them stand out and increased the aesthetic appeal of the furniture.
- Escutcheons: Escutcheons were primarily used for decoration purposes. They were placed on the back plates of locks and featured elaborate designs that improved the aesthetic appeal of the furniture. Metal was used as a material for escutcheons, and the most common designs were elaborate and featured multiple crests.
The furniture hardware of the early American colonial period was a reflection of the opulence and style of furniture found in Europe. These hardware pieces played a crucial role in both the functionality and aesthetics of furniture pieces. The use of iron and brass as the primary materials for furniture hardware during this period exemplified the skill and expertise of the blacksmiths who created them. The intricate designs and patterns in each piece of furniture hardware made each piece of furniture unique. To this day, the furniture hardware of the early American colonial period serves as a model for modern and contemporary furniture designs.