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April 19, 2018

Biedermeyer, Neo-Classical and Mid-Century Modern Furniture

The starting point for any appraisal is to know what you’re looking at. There has been so much stylistic overlap in furniture manufacturing that sometimes it tough to determine exactly what “style” or “period” a piece of furniture is based on.

The furniture pieces in this video by interior designer Cathy Hobbs are wildly divergent; there isn’t much (stylistically) to connect the Austrian Biedermeyer of the early 19th Century to American Mid-Century Modern of the 1950’s.

But, when the features pointed out by Ms. Hobbs are consistent within the styles, it’s much easier to determine if a given piece is a good example of the period or a mix & match of several styles.

In general, the defining characteristics of the styles shown in this video are:


  • Simple geometric shapes
  • Not much carving or ornamentation
  • Use of inlays and specialty veneers
  • Addition of Classical (Roman) columns, pediments, domes, and arches


Neoclassical is a broad term that embraces several furniture styles: Biedermeyer Louis XVI and Empire) that utilize classical Greek and Roman archetectural motifs. Picture in your mind Roman columns and spas, and those elements are likely to be included in Neo-classical furniture.

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Mod furniture was manufactured from about 1935 to around 1970, mostly in the US and Scandinavia. The most-recognized furniture of the period is the bleached blonde mahogany dining sets of the 1950s. If you watch re-runs of the old TV show “I Love Lucy”, you’l see that Lucy’s apartment is filled with Mid-Mod furniture. Other characteristics of Mid-Century Modern furniture include:

  • Clean lines
  • A variety of materials (including plastics, fiberglass, teak, and metal)
  • Painted and colorful
  • Exposed joinery, like dovetails and rabbet joints.



Originally posted 2014-11-13 15:43:00.

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About Wayne Jordan

Wayne Jordan is a Virginia-licensed Auctioneer (#3481), as well as an AIA and CAGA Certified Personal Property Appraiser. Learn more at http://www.resaleretailing.com/wayne-jordan-auctioneer-appraiser/

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