Duncan Phyfe Chair

by Dr. Lori Verderame

There are Duncan Phyfe originals and Duncan Phyfe reproductions. Duncan Phyfe (1768-1854) was a late 18th Century/early 19th Century craftsman who produced traditional style furniture.

Identifying Duncan Phyfe furniture

Duncan Phyfe Buffet

While Eastlake furniture was a popular style in the late 19th century, Duncan Phyfe furniture designs are based on what was popular and fashionable in Europe in the late 1700s and early 1800s. European furniture designs informed the look of Duncan Phyfe furniture. Duncan Phyfe became the premiere name in furniture design in New York during this time period. Based on fancy furniture popular in France and England, Duncan Phyfe furniture demonstrated traits such as delicate chairs with thin, tapered legs and upholstered or cushioned seats and library, hall, and gaming tables which expanded on hinges to reveal leaves and lyre-back settees based on the form of an ancient Greek stringed musical instrument which resembled a harp.

Unlike Thonet furniture which is known for its curved style and forms, Duncan Phyfe style pieces of furniture are recognizable for their straight lines. Most pieces were made out of hard woods such as walnut and mahogany.
When it comes to refinishing antique furniture, these tips will help you retain a piece’s value.

Values for Duncan Phyfe furniture

Duncan Phyfe chairAn original wooden table by Duncan Phyfe would be worth in the $50,000 to $150,000 range on the antiques market, today. For instance, recently, an original carved mahogany dining table by Duncan Phyfe from circa 1815 measuring 30 inches in height sold for $132,000.

Duncan Phyfe furniture was highly collected in the Federal period and later, in the 1930s to the 1950s, too. Reproduction Duncan Phyfe furniture–the furniture your grandmother owned in the era following World War II–has the same stylish and elegant look as the original Duncan Phyfe pieces. These reproductions have held their value well. For example, a vintage dining room set by Duncan Phyfe dating from the early to mid 1900s regularly sell for thousands of dollars. Do you have an original or reproduction?

Request an online appraisal of your Duncan Phyfe furniture from Dr. Lori.