Duncan Phyfe (1795-1848)

The Duncan Phyfe style is characterized by carved or reeded legs and neoclassic motifs. It is named after American cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe, and is considered by some art historians as more of an adaptation and refinement of Adam, Sheraton, Hepplewhite, and Empire than a style in itself.



Graceful and Refined – Elegant appearance.(Federal style shown)

Chair Arms

Slopes to front posts – Arms slope down to meet posts from the seat.

Chair Back Material

Upholstered – Cushioned and fabric covered.
Wood – Solid wood, horizontal slats, vertical slats, or vertical splats.

Chair Back Shape

Crossbar – X-shaped splat.
Crosspiece – Single flat vertical slat.
Lyre – Lyre-shaped central splat.
Scroll Back – Curved X-shaped splat.

Chair Leg

Carved – Decorative carving on chair legs.
Curule – X-shaped curved legs.
Reeded – Rounded decorative grooved or molding.
Round – Round, usually shaped or turned leg.
Simple turning – Turned leg with a few types of turnings.
Splayed – Leg with a concave shape.
Square – Flat surfaced leg on all sides.
Straight – Straight leg, vertical to chair seat.
Tapered – Straight leg gradually decreasing in width.
Tapered Turning – Turned leg with a slender, tapered appearance.

Chair Seat Material

Cane – Woven rattan.
Upholstered – Cushioned and covered with fabric.

Chair Seat Shape

Horseshoe – Horseshoe shaped seat with a rounded front.
Square – Square shaped seat.

Drawer Pull

Brass Knob – Mushroom-shaped brass knob.
Glass Knob – Mushroom-shaped or round glass knob, often clear or iridescent.
Lion Head Ring Pull – Lion’s head with ring pull attached through mouth, usually in brass.
Oval Stamped Brass Back Plate with Bail – Oval back plate of stamped brass with conforming handle. The size varies from 3 to 4 inches wide by 2 to 2.5 inches high.


Brocade – Rich, heavily woven fabric with a raised design, often with gold or silver thread.
Damask – Medium weight, glossy fabric with a reversible pattern and a figured intricate weave, often of linen, cotton, silk, or wool.
Hair Cloth – Stiff, open weave fabric made from animal hair, often camel or horse hair.
Needlepoint – A type of counted thread embroidery in which yarn is stitched through an open canvas weave.
Satin – Light to medium weight fabric with a smooth glossy face and a dull back.


Gilding – Gold leaf.
Oil Varnish – Clear finish that emphasized the grain of the wood.


Brass Paw or Claw – Animal paw or claw in brass.
Continuation of leg – Leg does not terminate into a foot.
Knob – Small, rounded turned ball.
Paw or Claw – Carved animal paw or claw.

Hardware Material

Brass – Yellowish metal made from copper and zinc.
Glass – Transparent to translucent.


Dovetail – An interlocking wood joint in which a series of wedge-shaped projections fits into a series of alternating grooves.


Slight Curve – Gently curving lines.
Straight – Straight lines.


Acanthus Leaf – Conventionalized leaf.
Arrows – Line with pointed tip.
Circle – A spherical shape.
Drapery Swag – Loosely folded cloth.
Lyre – Small harp-like musical instrument.
Plume – Feather-like figure.


Carving – Cutting or chipping the surface of wood to create a shape or design.
Fluting – Carved or molded vertical channels.
Fretwork – Decorative carving or openwork with interlacing lines.
Inlay – Contrasting material set into the surface of wood to create a shape or design.


Slender – Graceful and delicate dimensions.(Duncan Phyfe style shown)


Limited Use – Limited use of stretchers.(Queen Anne style shown)


Black Walnut – Dark brown American hardwood with a wide range of figures.
Cherry – Red-brown American hardwood.
Fruitwood – Pink-brown American hardwood, including apple and pear.
Maple – Golden to Red-brown American hardwood with a wide range of figures.
Rosewood Veneer – Purple-brown South American hardwood with black streaks that can be highly polished.
Satinwood Veneer – Light yellow to golden brown Indian hardwood that is highly figured, has a close grain, and can be highly polished.