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Queen Anne, the English sovereign from 1702 to 1714, has her name attributed to a popular furniture style even though she had little, if anything, to do with its development. In fact, Queen Anne furniture did not appear until a decade after her death.

The cyma or S curve is a distinct characteristic of Queen Anne furniture. Formed with an outward curve of the knee and a tapered, inward curve of the ankle, the cabriole leg was a real change from square furniture legs in earlier styles. This eye-pleasing curve continued up to the chair back. Shells were the favorite carved design and appeared on furniture legs, chair backs, drawers, and on top of cabinets. Surfaces were mostly plain so that the carvings would be the focal point. Inlay wood was no longer in fashion. Walnut was still the preferred wood, with the Queen Anne period often referred to as the Age of Walnut. Toward the end of this period mahogany gained in popularity. Upholstered furniture was introduced for the first time in the form of a padded wing chair. Plain highboys now became tall and stately and were often topped with a broken pediment arch and the familiar S curve.

When Queen Anne furniture was at the height of its popularity from about 1720 to 1760 Americans now had leisure time. This period introduced the small tea table which held the silver tea service used every afternoon by the lady of the house and her guests. Rectangular game tables with a swing leg to support the top in an open position were also new and very popular.

The Queen Anne style is the most reproduced of all American furniture. Reproductions are an affordable way to enjoy this style in your home, if you don't pay original prices. Also, a lot of furniture parts have often been "married" to create one finished piece. Unfortunately, many of these combined pieces are not labeled as such and are offered at the high price a totally original piece is worth.

The highest prices are for original pieces with outstanding workmanship from the major style centers of Boston, Philadelphia, and Newport, RI. Don't pay high prices without seeking the advice of an expert.

Queen Anne style is part of the early colonial style of decorating. Walls are usually painted in light colors, paneled, or wallpapered. Large, bold classical patterns such as ornamental discs and ovals, medallions, fans, floral swags, and pineapples are used in the wallpaper as well as other wall treatments. Upholstery included much needlework. The tree-of-life design was very popular. Appropriate fabrics for upholstery are tapestry, velvet, brocade, needlework and leather. Drapery fabrics include crewel embroidery, hand blocked linen, silk and worsted damask, velvet, and brocade. Popular period colors for both upholstery and draperies are full bodied burgundy, green, and yellow. Large pattern oriental rugs are best to use with this style. Smaller pieces of furniture from other styles, including gateleg tables and Windsor chairs, blend well with this furniture. Silver tea services are often used as accents.