How to Date Antique Furniture by Feet Styles (With Pictures)

Popular foot styles can help you identify a piece of antique furniture.

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antique furniture feet styles

Furniture feet styles have evolved and reflect the trends and aesthetics of the time. We’re sharing some common types of antique furniture feet, their characteristics, and when they were popular.

A Brief History

The earliest forms of furniture feet were simple blocks or stubs that served as a base for the piece. As furniture design became more refined, feet became more elaborate and decorative.

• In the 17th century, cabriole legs were popular, featuring a curved S-shaped design that was often carved with intricate details.

• In the 18th century, Queen Anne and Chippendale styles emerged, with delicate, elongated feet in the shape of animals or turned wood.

• In the 19th century, the Victorian era brought a fascination with the Gothic Revival and Renaissance Revival styles, resulting in furniture feet with pointed toes and ornate carvings.

• The Art Nouveau movement also influenced furniture design, with flowing, organic shapes and intricate metalwork.

1
Claw Feet

Dates

  • Claw feet were prominent in furniture during the 18th and 19th centuries in Victorian and Rococo designs.

Characteristics

  • Designed to resemble animal claws and often come with a decorative ball or sphere at the end.
  • Detail of the claws can vary, ranging from simple, stylized forms to highly detailed and realistic renditions.
  • Found on furniture that has other ornate details, which complements the overall design of the piece.
  • Metal versions of claw feet, particularly those made of brass or bronze, often feature intricate carvings or engravings.
  • Commonly found on a diverse range of furniture pieces, including chairs, tables, cabinets, and even bathtubs.

2
Hoof Feet

Dates

  • Hoof feet originated in the 17th century and were popular in furniture styles such as Queen Anne, Chippendale, and Neoclassical.

Characteristics

  • Shaped like the hooves of animals, with deer (pied-de-biche) being the most common inspiration.
  • Typically feature a split at the center of the foot.
  • Often crafted from wood but can also be made of brass or other materials.
  • Frequently adorned with intricate carvings, gilding, or other decorative elements.
  • Commonly found on chairs, tables, and chests.
  • Considered a symbol of luxury and often featured on high-end furniture pieces.

3
Dolphin Feet

Dates

  • Dolphin feet were prevalent in furniture during the 18th and 19th centuries and were common in styles such as Rococo and Neoclassical.

Characteristics

  • Carved to resemble the curved, elongated shape of a dolphin’s tail.
  • Typically made of wood or bronze.
  • Used to support various furniture pieces, including tables and chairs.
  • Found on both formal and casual furniture items.
  • Recognized for adding elegance and whimsy to furniture design.

4
Spade Feet

Dates

  • Spade feet were prevalent in furniture during the 18th and 19th centuries and are commonly associated with styles such as Queen Anne, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton.

Characteristics

  • Designed with a flat, rectangular base that tapers into a sharp, pointed tip, resembling a spade or shovel.
  • Frequently used on tables, chairs, and chests.
  • Known for their functionality, providing a sturdy base and preventing furniture from tipping.
  • Pointed design allows for easier movement on uneven or carpeted surfaces.
  • Adds an element of refinement and sophistication to furniture design.

5
Bun Feet

Dates

  • Bun feet were popular during the 18th and 19th centuries and continue to be used in some contemporary furniture designs.

Characteristics

  • Rounded design, often resembling a bun or ball shape.
  • Commonly used on tables, chairs, and dressers.
  • Typically crafted from wood.
  • Serve both decorative and functional purposes, elevating furniture off the ground.
  • Protect the furniture’s base from scratches and damage.

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