Hepplewhite (1765-1800)

Hepplewhite is a neoclassic style characterized by a delicate appearance, tapered legs, and the use of contrasting veneers and inlay. It is named after British designer and cabinetmaker George Hepplewhite whose designs in “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Guide” were published posthumously in 1788. This style was reproduced in the United States particularly in the Carolinas, Maryland, New England, New York, and Virginia.



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

Chair Arms

Curved – Arms curved outward.

Chair Back Material

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

Chair Back Shape

Oval – Oval-shaped back often with a central splat.
Shield – Shield-shaped chair back.

Chair Leg

Reeded – Rounded decorative grooved or molding.
Round – Round, usually shaped or turned leg.
Square – Flat surfaced leg on all sides.
Straight – Straight leg, vertical to chair seat.
Tapered – Straight leg gradually decreasing in width.

Chair Seat Material

Upholstered – Cushioned and covered with fabric.

Chair Seat Shape

Horseshoe – Horseshoe shaped seat with a rounded front.
Horseshoe Arch with Serpentine Front – Horseshoe shaped seat with a serpentine front.

Drawer Pull

Loop Handle – Bail handle without a back plate, 3.5 to 4.5 inches wide.
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.
Satin – Light to medium weight fabric with a smooth glossy face and a dull back.
Silk – Fine, lustrous fabric woven from the fiber made by silkworms.


Oil Varnish – Clear finish that emphasized the grain of the wood.
Paint – Opaque, pigmented finish that obscures the grain of the wood.


Bracket – Angular curved foot, usually used with case furniture.
Continuation of leg – Leg does not terminate into a foot.
French – Straight and slender bracket-type foot, usually used with case furniture.
Spade – Flat or rounded foot, wider than leg and then tapering.

Hardware Material

Brass – Yellowish metal made from copper and zinc.
Wood – Various types of wood, carved or turned.


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.


Conch Shell – Spiral-shaped shell.
Drapery Swag – Loosely folded cloth.
Honeysuckle – Plant with small colorful flowers.
Palmetto – Fan-shaped palm leaf.
Plume – Feather-like figure.
Ribbon – Ribbon-like strips.
Urn – Vase-shaped figure.
Wheat Ear or Husk – Cereal grass.


Banding – Thin strips of contrasting veneer used as a decorative border or edging.
Carving – Cutting or chipping the surface of wood to create a shape or design.
Fluting – Carved or molded vertical channels.
Inlay – Contrasting material set into the surface of wood to create a shape or design.
Marquetry – Combinations of veneer used to create pictures or patterns.


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


Slender – Graceful use of stretchers.(Hepplewhite style shown)


Amboyna Veneer – Golden-brown hardwood from the West Indies with a bird’s eye figure.
Birch – Red-brown American hardwood with a close grain.
Cherry – Red-brown American hardwood.
Mahogany – Red-brown South American and African hardwood.
Mahogany Veneer – Red-brown South American and African hardwood, used in thinly sliced sheets.
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.
Sycamore – Creamy-white European hardwood, treated to turn a silvery-gray or pink-brown color.
Tulipwood – Pink-yellow South American hardwood with red striping used in inlays; also known as pinkwood.