There is much confusion about the issue of centennial furniture. What is it and why is it called as such? Do the items that fall under that category really a hundred years old? It is time to answer these questions once and for all.

The origin of centennial furniture can be traced back to the 1876 Centennial Exposition. Held in Philadelphia, the event featured many things around the world, including the latest in technology, fashion and furniture. During this time, America became nostalgic and sought the better times the country had a hundred years prior. This resulted in the sudden demand for the Colonial period antiques, as buyers thought their lives could enjoy a boost when surrounded with such things.

Centennial furniture are mostly reproductions of Colonial period pieces. In the 19th century, the demand for Colonial furniture exceeded the supply of genuine Colonial antiques. The solution for the deficit came from decorator Clarence Cook: in his book entitled “House Beautiful,” he stated that a good reproduction would be an acceptable substitute if the genuine article was not available. The clamor for Colonial furniture was so intense that cabinet makers and craftsmen immediately went to work on top quality 18th century reproductions.

It should be noted that the term ‘centennial furniture’ is actually deceiving. Because the items are merely reproductions, they obviously are not a hundred years old. The items were only named as such because they were created in a time close to the Centennial Exposition. Also, the word ‘centennial’ is utilized by auctioneers and dealers to distinguish between high quality (19th century furnishings) and low quality (Depression era pieces) reproductions.

Those who want to have Colonial period reproductions in their homes would be delighted to know that many online antique suppliers have several centennial furniture in stock.

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