Jacobean Furniture (1600 – 1700)
The first furniture made in North America was modelled on the English furniture brought by the early settlers. The furniture was simple and straightforward but well proportioned and often had a great deal of flat carved decoration. The most commonly used wood was oak but pine and maple were also used.
The most popular tables were gateleg tables which gave rise to a uniquely American version, the butterfly table, in which the drop-leaf supports resemble the shape of butterfly wings.
Chairs included wooden armchairs, called Carver and Brewster chairs, after the Pilgrim Fathers who had brought chairs of that type with them to America.
Late in the 17th century, the “stand”, a small, plain rectangular or round bedside or fireside table, developed.
William & Mary Furniture (1700 – 1715)
When William and Mary furniture reached America, it quickly became fashionable with inlay and lacquer decoration replacing carving. Writing desks were often made using a variety of woods for differing effects on each part of the desk.
The William and Mary chest of drawers on a stand was adapted to become the highboy (with the drawers raised so that they could be opened without bending down) and the lowboy, a dressing table with drawers. These were usually made of walnut or walnut veneer (often burled).
Queen Anne Furniture (1715 – 1760)
Although it did not reach America until after her death, Queen Anne style furniture remained he dominant form in America throughout the early Georgian period.
Drop-leaf tables replaced gateleg tables and cabriole legs replaced turned legs on highboys, lowboys and beds.
The wing chair, an upholstered chair with a tall back and face-level “wings” to protect the head from the heat of the fire, was introduced. These were usually upholstered in silk, damask or wool.
The American Windsor chair was also introduced during this period. This differs from the English Windsor chair in that it lacks a central upright at the back, has legs set at a more exaggerated angle and is usually made with a greater number of thinner rods.