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American Versus English Furniture

Martha Stewart Living Television

During their many years as antiques dealers, Albert Sack and his brothers have emphasized the importance and uniqueness of American antique furniture. Many skeptics assume that early-American furniture makers did little more than imitate English design. In truth, each country has a distinct style: While English craftsmen were known for ornamentation, Americans focused their attention on stability, practicality, and understated elegance.

Because fine English furniture was custom-designed for nobility and manor houses, ornamentation such as carving, gilding, and exotic veneer patterns was standard. American colonists largely shunned the ostentation of European design, and the colonial craftsmen developed furniture forms that favor form and proportion over ornamentation.

For more information, take a look at Albert's book "The New Fine Points of Furniture: Early American, Good, Better, Best, Superior, Masterpiece" (Crown, 1993).

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