Depression-era Furniture

wikicollecting

wikicollecting

2015-06-26 10:54:10

Depression-era furniture is furniture that was created during the 20s, 30s and early 40s in America. The Depression era came as a consequence of the Wall Street Crash, which left many Americans in dire financial straits. It was a period of austerity and massive unemployment.

 

Background

Depression-era furniture dates from the 1920s, 1930s and the early 1940s. Although Depression-era furniture hasn’t always been popular among collectors, it is slowly accruing a number of dedicated followers. Technically, Depression-era furniture is not considered antique, as it is fewer than 100 years old.

Depression-era furniture was made in a number of styles to many specifications. Depression-era furniture, therefore, tends to blend in with many different decorating schemes. Predominantly, Depression-era furniture has an understated Art Deco furniture air about it, exhibited Deco-inspired curves and a great deal of veneer work.

Wood veneer finishes were used during the Depression-era as a way of saving money, as well as for their aesthetic appeal. Not all veneer finishes are low end but during an era of massive financial constraint and almost universal belt-tightening, manufacturers had to make furniture that would appeal to customers trying to keep costs down. Laying a slender slice of ornate veneer over a less expensive wood offered a good way to accomplish this objective.

A plethora of bleaches, stains and techniques were used to create these veneers, meaning identifying a specific type of wood can prove tricky. Others have only slightly modified characteristics which can make identification somewhat easier.

Depression-era furniture, although distinctive, is varied, with some pieces garnering a great deal more attention than others. Curio and china cabinets, for example, have, so far, proven a great deal more popular at auction than buffets, for instance, as their curving glass surfaces possess immediate eye appeal.

Dressing tables and their accompanying accessories have proven popular in the past. Entire bedroom sets also frequently appear at auction, though only very rarely do they out perform their estimates.
Dressing table mirrors tend to possess three, adjustable mirrored panels, enabling the viewee to see every side of her (or his) face.

Small occasional tables from this period can be still be bought for a few dollars if you know where to look.

Price guide

Four pieces of Depression-era mixed wood furniture sold for $275 at Conestoga Auction Company in May 2012.

A Depression-era display cabinet sold for $325 at Austin Auction Gallery in February 2012.

A Depression-era oak buffet by Union Furniture Company sold for $450 at Quinn’s Auction Galleries in November 2006.

A Depression-era celluloid travelling vanity set sold for $75 at Kamelot Auctions in November 2009.

A Depression-era china cabinet sold for $45 at Armory Auction in May 2008.

A Depression-era cast metal table lamp sold for $325 at Kamelot Auctions in November 2009.

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