SHOP WITH US ONLINE
Miller's Old Stuff on Ebay
Donna's Antiques on Etsy

Ron & Donna Miller - Publishers

Miniature Greenhouses Covered Ferns & More

The original idea for a garden under glass, or terrarium, is credited to a Dr. Ward, who invented the apparatus as a way to transport exotic plants to England in 1845. By 1850, these “Wardian cases” could be found in every well-to-do home in Victorian England.

Ferns, sedums and succulent evergreens were planted in rich soil, watered once, and then covered with a bell jar. After that, they needed no further attention and grew well in their miniature greenhouse.

By 1860, anyone who could afford a bell jar and a planting pan had a Wardian case in the home. There are still a few of the bell jars to be found; the planting pan is often missing. The jars are often mistakenly identified as having been used to cover the wax figures that were also popular around this same period of time.

Return to Index

Quality Antique Furniture Defined By Time
And Style Of Manufacture

Fine antique American furniture can be divided into seven distinct periods, each with its own elements of style. These periods are:

Pilgrim (or Jacobean)
1630-1690
William and Mary
1690-1725
Queen Anne
1725-1755
Chippendale
1755-1785
Federal (including Sheraton and Heppelwhite) 1785-1810
Empire 1810-1840
Victorian 1840-1910

Each of these styles originated in England or Europe and made its way to this country by way of English cabinetmakers.

A look at the chairs of each style will give a general understanding of its characteristics.

Pilgrim chairs were heavy pieces made of oak with sausage-shaped lathe turnings. William and Mary chairs were walnut and featured cane seats and backs, with elaborate carving on the legs, arms and back, and ball or shaped feet. Chairs of these two earliest periods exist today primarily in museums.

Queen Anne chairs had curved cabriole legs and pad feet. One type of Chippendale chair is similar, but often has added carving to the legs and ball-and-claw feet. The other type of Chippendale has straight, square front legs. Queen Anne and Chippendale chairs were made of mahogany, maple, birch or walnut.

The chairs of the Federal period were lighter in design and construction. Heppelwhite chairs used a shield or oval back and Sheraton favored a square back. They had tapered legs, and painting, inlay work or carving as ornamentation was common.

Empire chairs were heavy in both appearance and construction. They were of massive design and often had broad veneered surfaces. The most notable cabinetmaker of this period was Duncan Phyfe.

Victorian chairs are hard to categorize. They borrowed from every preceding period and blended the design ideas, often ostentatiously. Overall, they typified the baroque taste of this era.

Existing side by side with the so-called fine furniture was the country furniture of each period. The earliest settlers made ladder-back chairs for everyday use, and these continued to be made and used until the end of the 19th century.

During the Empire period, painted furniture was popular for everyday use. The Hitchcock chairs, with their fancy stencil decorations, are the most well known. In the Victorian period, “kitchen” chairs of pine and oak, with designs stamped on by giant presses, were very popular.

Other popular country or kitchen designs of the past were the Shaker-made chairs; Windsor chairs with their backs of vertical dowels; and wicker pieces.

Return to Index

Collectible Cabinet?

Music Cabinet, 1915.

This piece of furniture, made of mahogany, would be a great place to store paper collectibles. Sold in 1915 by the Tindale Cabinet Company of New York, it was originally made to hold music. Sheet music, phonograph records and player-piano rolls would all fit in Tindale Music Cabinets. The piece shown here, the company’s Style E, was specifically designed for sheet music. It sold originally for $17!

Return to Index