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Grace Peterson
Grace Peterson is the owner/operator of 40 Winks, The Oak Merchant. Grace has owned the Oak Merchant for 7 years and her family has been in the furniture business for over 50 years throughout Kansas. You can reach Grace at (316) 681-0071 or by email at grace@oakmerchant.com.
2003-11-01 14:21:00
Why is oak furniture so popular?
ANSWER: Most of the early furniture from the 17th Century was made using oak because it was readily available in many parts of the country. Middle class growth gave rise to a demand for furniture that could not only be used for domestic purposes but also for displaying the wealth of the household. Many items were made to order and reflected the specific requirements of size and decoration. Often, the pieces were dated and initialed, sometimes commemorating a marriage or birth in the family. Branded initials are often found on furniture and different initials often reflect a change of ownership.    Oak was the primary wood used in Pilgrim construction in the Colonies in the early and mid 17th century, but it was almost not used at all from the late 17th century to the late 19th century in the U.S., although it was used extensively in England and Europe during this period. Oak was used not only as a primary wood but also as the secondary wood in England. The secondary wood dimensions were reduced and used for drawer sides and bottoms, which were thinner and reduced the weight of the piece. During the great non-oak period in America, the favorite primary woods were walnut, mahogany, cherry, and maple. Pine and poplar remain favorites in American secondary woods, since they are abundant and inexpensive.    Early oak furniture is still available today because of the durability of oak as a material and also because of the quality of the workmanship. A joiner had to work several years as an apprentice before he was able to join a guild of craftsmen. The guilds insisted on the highest standards of craftsmanship and materials, which has ensured the consistency in the quality of 17th Century oak furniture. The color and surface of furniture pieces existing from that period has been acquired through years of dusting and polishing build-up, which gives it softness.   In 1928 a new period of style emerged, known as "Renaissance Oak."  This was the first truly American period of furniture. It assured the heirloom quality, as well as the inherent beauty of Oak. There were many new oak designs available and an increasing demand for oak lines.
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