William IV - the brief reign of William IV (1830 – 1837) marked a period of transition between the Regency period (which had been an age of innovation based on revivalist styles such as ancient Egypt, and the Grecian designs) and the Victorian era.
William IV furniture is similar in style to Regency furniture with many of the designs from the Regency period being copied but often executed in a much heavier manner with chairs, tables and other items being coarser and clumsier in appearance when compared with those made during the Regency period.
Popular pieces produced during this period include tilt top dining tables and pillared extendable tables. Sofa tables and drum tables were also favoured at the time as were sideboards and card tables. Heavy brass fittings were a prominent feature such as lion’s paw feet on tables. Chairs frequently sported sabre legs to the back with stumpy bulbous turned legs to the front. The rope twist carved back was also much in favour.
This period also saw the introduction of the more exotic timbers such as rosewood and zebra wood. With the Industrial Revolution getting under way furniture making saw the increased use of mechanisation a trend set to accelerate during the Victorian period.
This short, but important transitional period eventually gave way to the romanticism of the Victorians but the furniture it produced was usually of good quality and it remains sought after and desirable today.
Walnut & Burr Walnut
Walnut is a hard, dense, tight- grained wood that polishes to a very smooth finish. It is a popular and attractive wood whose colour ranges from near white in the sapwood to a dark hew in the heartwood. When dried in a kiln, walnut wood tends to develop a dull brown colour, but when air-dried can become a rich purplish-brown. Because of its colour, hardness and grain, it is a prized furniture and carving wood. Walnut veneer was highly priced and the cost would reflect the ‘fanciness’ of the veneer – the more decorative, then the more expensive and desirable.
Burr walnut refers to the swirling figure present in nearly all walnut when cut and polished, and especially in the wood taken from the base of the tree where it joins the roots. However the true burr is a rare growth on the tree where hundreds of tiny branches have started to grow. Burr walnut produces some of the most complex and beautiful figuring you can find.
Walnut "burrs" were often used to make fabulous furniture. Veneer sliced from walnut burl is one of the most valuable and highly prized by cabinet makers and prestige car manufacturers and is also a favourite material for shotgun stocks.