Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary
Beds - Construction
Beds - styles
US - Colonial period (pre-Revolutionry War) styles
Beds were often the most highly appraised furnishings in Colonial inventories compiled to settle estates, not because of their fine posts and rails but for the elaborate hangings and coverlets that went with them.
Sleeping in a bed enclosed by curtains was common, primarily to conserve warmth. Most bed frames themselves were simple, since little wood was left exposed by bedding and hangings.
The type most commonly associated with the Colonial era is the tall-post bed with a canopy, or tester. If a bed had low posts, curtains could be suspended from the ceiling.The basic bed form - four turned posts of varying height held together by plain rails - changed little during the 17th and 18th centuries. Headboards are simply cut and footboards often omitted; the ropes supporting the bedding are fastened to knobs or through holes.
The character of the turnings is the best indicator of age and style: rare early examples have thick posts, or stiles, with deep turnings, whereas later pieces have lighter proportions and turnings.
Some daybeds - sofas or elongated chairs that doubled as beds - were small beds with matching head- and footboards.
- Jacobean daybed - Reprinted from Edgar G. Miller, Jr., American Antique Furniture, 1937, Vols. 1 & 2
US - Federal style
Late 18th-century canopy, or four-poster, beds are usually more elegant and follow period styles. The earliest have cabriole legs. Federal-era examples tend to have reeded or fluted posts at the footboard, straight tapered legs, and, sometimes, painted canopies.
US - Empire style
Empire beds are characterized by heavy matched head- and footboards; those on sleigh beds are scroll-shaped.
Bedsteads were of the gondola, sleigh, four poster, or "pineapple" (four posts terminated with pineapples designs) type. Tapestries supported by posts were passť.
- Four bedposts (Figure 816) - Colonial Furniture in America, by Luke Vincent Lockwood
- Low post - Ansley Wilcox Mansion / Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site
- Two Low-post Bedsteads in the Empire Style (Figures 818, 819) - Colonial Furniture in America
- Low post bed - Bigelow House, Amherst Museum
- Low post bed and country klismos chair - Smith Log Cabin, Amherst Museum
- Two beds - Private collection, Buffalo, NY
- Pineapple bed - Kelly Schultz Antiques
US - Victorian styles
Typical mid-19th-century beds have more exposed woodwork than earlier designs and often display Renaissance Revival, Rococo Revival, or Eastlake decoration. High headboards, lower footboards, and wide side rails are common features; slats usually support the bedding. Some were elaborately carved and decorated by well-known makers such as Herter Brothers and John Henry Belter; others were mass-produced in furniture centers around the country.
The basic forms persisted into the 20th century, when many earlier designs were updated to suit later tastes and new materials.
Beds made of iron or brass tubing were produced in quantity from 1880 to 1925. Metal beds were later created in the modern style as well.
- Renaissance Revival style, Luigi Frullini-designed bed - Private collection in Buffalo, NY
- Hired man's bed - Boies-Lord House (Hamburg)
US - Cradles
Simple boxlike cradles, occasionally with a wooden hood at one end, were among the earliest cradles and continued to be made in the 19th century in rural areas. 19th-century cradles included fashionable ones, sometimes based on bed designs, and elevated cradles set on trestle bases.
Principal source of text: The Antique Hunter's Guide: American Furniture: Tables, Chairs, Sofas and Beds, by Marvin D. Schwartz, 2000
Chinese Ming Dynasty Beds"Although the use was similar to the daybed, the couch bed (chuang, luohan chuang) is distinguished by railings, which render it as a more formal piece of furniture. The development of railings may be related with the early placement of screen panels around the back and sides of the platform, which enhanced the sitter as well as provided privacy and protection from drafts. This practice gradually gave rise to decorative railings attached to the seat frame of the platform. By the Ming dynasty, the box-style platform had developed into the more sophisticated open-structured, corner-leg form." - Classical Chinese Furniture (online Jan. 2014)
Ming furniture has clean, elegant lines with graceful curved details. Often lattice designs are used to create a light open structure.
The furniture in Ming dynasty can be classified into five categories according to the function: table & case category, bed & couch category, chair & stool category, frame & shelf category and screen category.
Beds can be classified into three main types : daybed (ta), luohan bed (luohanchuang), and canopy bed (jiazichuang), in an increasing level of complexity and formality.
(online Jan. 2014)
Daybed has no rails and side panels, it is almost exactly like a stool or kang table except for a much larger size.
Luohan beds have back and side railings, with the back rail usually slightly higher. Some rails are made with solid boards, while a lot more are made of open lattice work. A small number are made with frames and floating panels. Luohan beds are also daybeds in nowadays classification. During the Ming dynasty, Luohan bed, with moderate size and easy to move around, was usually placed in study room or bedroom for relaxation.
Canopy beds have a top frame, usually in lattice work or carved panels, supported by four posts or six posts. The six posted version have the extra two posts placed at the front side, thus allowing an extra two small panels be set up. One form of canopy bed is even made into a complex within which a small raised wooden platform be made stretching from front to the back, with the portion in the front making space for small tables or chairs. With drapes hanging down from the top frame, the enclosure is akin to a private living area.
Underside of the beds are usually left open, though at recent times drawers may be added for a more economic use of space."