19th Century Cabinet Makers

Terry Hurley
An antique cabinet

During the 19th century cabinet makers crafted exquisite pieces that are highly desired by antique collectors of today.

Furniture Styles of the 19th Century

Throughout the 19th century many different furniture styles came in and out of vogue. It was the century of revival furniture styles in the United States, England and Europe. As America became more industrialized, furniture reflected the new technologies of the times. Cabinet makers quickly adapted the styles of the furniture to the new technologies.

The following are the furniture styles of the 19th century and the years the styles were produced. Knowing the years that the furniture styles were produced makes it easier to see the transitions that many cabinet makers of the 19th century made during their years of production.

  • Federal, also called American Neo-classicism, from 1780 - 1820
  • Biedermeir from 1815 - 1860
  • American Empire, known as Regency in England, from 1820 - 1840
  • Elizabethan Revival and Gothic from 1825 - 1865
  • Empire Revival / Late Classical, also called the French Restoration, from 1835 - 1850
  • Rococo, a Victorian style that was a revival of Louis XIV and XV, from 1845 - 1900 with it becoming less popular from the 1860s on
  • Renaissance Revival, a Victorian style that was a revival of the Italian Renaissance
  • Colonial Revival from 1875 to current
  • Eastlake, the last Victorian style, from 1880 - 1900
  • Arts and Crafts, a revival of Middle Ages and Gothic, from 1880 - 1910
  • Art Nouveau from 1880 - 1920
  • Shaker from the late 1700s through the end of the 1800s
  • Innovative style furniture using machines and experimenting with materials including lamination, paper mache, metal and natural elements throughout the 1800s

19th Century Cabinet Makers

Although there were hundreds of cabinet makers using their skills throughout the 19th century, there are many that are considered true masters of their craft.

Townsend and Goddard Families

Legends in the world of Rhode Island cabinetmaking, the Quaker family became famous for their cabinet making in the 18th and early part of the 19th century. The oldest of the Townsend cabinet makers, Job Townsend, passed away in 1765 and his son John Townsend continued the business with his cousin John Goddard. The furniture produced by Townsend and Goddard is well-known for its:

  • High quality mahogany wood
  • Block and shell ornamentation of pieces in the Chippendale style
  • Attention to find details including perfectly executed dovetails
  • The creation of claw and ball feet with undercut talons

Alexander Roux

Born in 1813, Alexander Roux was a French cabinet maker that worked in New York City. Although Roux produced pieces on his own, he also worked with his brother, Frederick Roux and his son Alexander J. Roux. Alexander Roux specialized in furniture of the Gothic, Renaissance and Rococo Revival styles. The Roux shop closed in 1898, twelve years after its founder, Alexander Roux passed away.

Thomas Sheraton

An English cabinetmaker, Thomas Sheraton, lived from 1751 - 1806 and is most known for his exquisite neoclassical pieces. Aside form Chippendale, Thomas Sheraton is thought to be the most famous of the English cabinet makers.

John Swisegood

A cabinetmaker in North Carolina, John Swisegood was of German descent and brought a strong German influence to his pieces. He is considered by many to be the most well known furniture maker in the North Carolina area during the early to mid late 19th century. Swisegood is well known for his beautiful pieces and his fine work with inlays and veneers.

Pottier and Stymus

Considered elite in the field of furniture and design, cabinet makers William Stymus and Auguste Pottier's business was located in New York City. Working mostly in the Egyptian and Renaissance Revival styles, their furniture pieces is often identified by the P & S stamp. Pottier and Stymus produced elaborate carved large pieces of furniture for clients including::

  • The White House
  • The Plaza Hotel
  • Henry Flager
  • John D. Rockerfeller

Additional Notable Cabinetmakers of the Time

Several additional notable cabinet makers of the 19th century include:

  • Michael Allison
  • Francois Seignouret
  • Brazilia Deming & Eratus Bulkley
  • Lieutenant Samuel Dunlap
  • Major John Dunlap
  • Leon Marcotte
  • John Seymkour
  • Thomas Seymour
  • Alden Spooner
  • John Fitts
  • John Shaw
  • Henry Heitman
  • Joseph Conrad

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Often surviving antique furniture pieces made by many of the 19th century cabinetmakers are part of private or museum collections.

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19th Century Cabinet Makers