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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Duncan Phyfe style or better?


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Dear Mr. Taylor,

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions like mine. I expect you might be tired of receiving questions about "Duncan Phyfe" furniture, but here we go --

We bought this table, and the chairs separately, more than 30 years ago at an antique market in Toronto. The table has two leaves. We have assumed all this time that they are Duncan Phyfe "style," probably from the 30s or 40s, but now we are wondering whether the table might be more valuable. It has such a beautiful patina, a really glowing red-brown. Your opinion would be much appreciated, and I can send more photos if you wish.

We have eight chairs -- two armchairs, four like the chair on the right in the photo of the table, and two of the more delicate ones, like the chair on the left.

Looking forward to your opinion, and many thanks again,


Patricia - The term "Duncan Phyfe" has come to mean any table with curved legs. That style actually preceded Phyfe by over fifty years and was used in English tables of the late 1700s.

That is a nice table but... It is a typical Colonial Revival reproduction table probably form the late 1940s. I used to have virtually the identical table. It is made of Honduran flat cut mahogany veneer on the top on the standard five layer sandwich of wood used in the period for table tops. If you look closely at an edge you can see five layers - the top veneer, then an underlayment of slightly thicker veneer, a solid wood core, then two more layers of veneer. It is called "lumber core" plywood. It is further explained and illustrated in detail in my book "HOW TO BE AS FURNITURE DETECTIVE."

The pedestals and legs are made of a secondary wood, red gum, that has been stained to look like mahogany. The table, while attractive and serviceable, is pretty much run of the mill for the period.

The chairs styles are both variations of the Hepplewhite shield back design. George Hepplewhite was an English designer whose work was popular in the United States in the late 1700s and early 1800s Federal period. He is best known for his design of the oval drawer pulls of the period that bear his name.

Here are more chairs of that style.

Properly cared for your table will last many more generations. The number one thing you can do to prolong the life of the table is to use well made insulated table pads. One other helpful hint - the pedestals are mounted so that the odd leg points under the table. If you turn them around so the leg points out, as was the original position in the 18th century, the person that sits on the end has more leg room by straddling the leg. This shows the result.

Enjoy your table.

Thanks for writing.

Fred Taylor  

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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Fred Taylor


I will attempt to answer questions about American antique furniture, including construction details, style, period, manufacturers, care, repair and storage. I do not have any background in appliances, musical instruments, sewing machines, trunks, lighting, clocks or children's and baby furniture and will not respond to questions about those items.


I ran an antique furniture restoration business for twenty years. I am a nationally syndicated columnist on the subject of antique furniture for such publications as Antique Week and New England Antiques Journal. I have produced one video on the subject of furniture identification and my book "HOW TO BE A FURNITURE DETECTIVE" is now available.I have also published articles in Antique Trader, Chicago Art Deco Society, Northeast Magazine, Victorian Decorating and Lifestyles, Professional Refinishing, Antiques and Art Around Florida and Antique Shoppe. You can visit my website at

BSBA Finance, University of Florida, MBA Finance, University of Florida

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