Five of the Best: Exceptional Antiques
Unearthing particularly exceptional antiques is one of the most satisfying and enjoyable aspects of working with (and collecting) antiques. But what distinguishes a piece of furniture as being truly exceptional? Certainly, rarity and uncommon or striking design plays its part, but to the expert eye, exceptional pieces of furniture are also identifiable by the choice of materials used, the intricacy and crispness of detail, and overall quality of craftsmanship which, combined, may indicate it was designed and made by one of the cabinetmakers of the century.
The most exceptional antiques in any collection will combine many, if not all of these elements. Here is our selection of some of the finest pieces of antique furniture we’ve encountered in recent years.
- 19th Century English Writing Table in the Manner of Holland & Son
One of our most recent acquisitions, this elegant English writing table is an outstanding example of 3D geometric marquetry. The top features the finest kingwood cross-banding, penned bone inlay, purple-heart, amboyna, satinwood to name just a few of the exotic timbers used. As with most antique furniture, the piece bears no maker’s mark but the distinctive style and flawless quality of the marquetry points to famous makers Holland & Sons, cabinetmakers to Queen Victoria. We have cleaned off one half of this writing table to show what lies beneath.
19th Century French Louis XVI Bookcase Cabinet
Made circa 1890, this beautiful bookcase, made of the finest quality mahogany available, is one of the finest examples of its kind. The quality of the ormolu mouldings is exceptional and has been applied across the whole piece and around the sides of the bookcase which is very unusual. Each door opens slowly due to the sheer weight of the doors (much like a great quality car), and the interior bolts holding the bookcase together are silvered which is almost unheard of. Whomever this bookcase was designed for, was important and had an eye for detail.
3. 20th Century French Louis XVI Corbeille Queen Bed
There are many elements which make this bed magnificent – from the elaborately carved head and foot, the carving so intricate it’s as if the flowers have been draped over the bed, to the cleverly placed gold lead which covers each individual flower – imagine the time to gild each flower and ensure that the gilt does not touch the green polish behind! This would have been tremendously time-intensive to achieve. It is the wonderful original, matching bookcase surround that makes this such a rare French bed, a truly unusual feature we’ve never before encountered in our forty years of buying antiques.
4. Pair of Fine 19th Century Alabaster Antique Floor Lamps
Hand-carved and pierced out of mottled grey marble, these massive 19th century floor lamps are outstanding, not just because of the quality of carving but thanks to their huge scale. Standing at over two metres in height without the shades, these imposing columns would have been hugely expensive and time-consuming to make. Now fitted as lamps, they would look superb in a hotel foyer, entryway or very large living room.
5. 19th Century French Gilt-Wood King Size Bed
A bed fit for a king, this grandiose and dramatic piece almost certainly hails from a French castle or huge chateau. Not only is a bed of this size, stature and quality incredibly rare, it also remains in excellent original condition, with the original 23 ct gold leaf which covers the wooden frame in fabulous condition. The deep-relief carving creates a gravitas the bed would not have were it to have shallow carving.
For more information about exceptional antiques, please contact Wallrocks on 07 3862 2253