Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary


Small twigs or flexible strips of wood which are woven into chairs, tables, screens, and baskets.

Victorian era

Used both indoors and outdoors in the late 19th century, wicker was often found in the elegant parlors of the 1880s, which displayed an eclectic mixture of furnishings. Inspired first by Oriental imports and often using a variety of Oriental materials, wicker furniture factories sprang up all over America. Some of the largest producers, such as the Wakefield Rattan Company in Massachusetts, were located in New England.

Wicker was used to create a wide variety of objects, from chairs and settees to baby buggies.

Late Victorian sewing stands: Late Victorian sewing stands were often made of wicker in basketweave patterns.

Late Victorian planters: One of the most popular forms of plant stands, these rectangular pieces were used for a number of years all over the country. They often held ferns, the special favorite of Victorian housewives, and might be found on the porch, in the solarium, or even in the parlor. In general, higher-quality pieces had more elaborately woven designs.

The wicker compartment was fitted with waterproof liner. On sides above compartment, handlelike rods; below, decorative wickerwork.

Usually turned ash, hickory, or birch, with woven wicker body. Compartment bottom, when present, pine. Frequently painted white, green, or brown. Waterproof liner: tin.

C. 1860-1920. Factories and shops, primarily in the East and Midwest.

Rattan: The long, solid, round stems of a species of palm found in India and the east. The unbranched stems are pliable and tough, and are used in wickerwork furniture Though it does not stain easily, it can can be lacquered.

Photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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