What Are the Characteristics of Medieval Antiques?

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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
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  • Last Modified Date: 23 May 2020
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Medieval antiques are items that were made in Europe between the late fifth century and the mid 15th century. They include items such as benches and stools, trunks and chests, and textiles. Furniture in the medieval period was often made of oak wood that was usually assembled with wooden pegs.

In medieval times, families moved often. Viking raids and wars between neighbors was common, so transporting one's property to safer areas was not an uncommon occurrence. Thus the focus of many medieval antiques was lightness and portability, so that they could accompany a family during a move.

One frequently found medieval antique is the trunk or chest. These articles of furniture were owned by many and were popular because of their versatility. A chest could store items, and items could be transported in it. It could also be used as seating, a table, or even a bed if needed.

Chairs are not often found among medieval antiques. While the wealthy may have owned individual chairs, most common people did not. Seating was provided by benches or stools instead. Occasionally, one chair would be owned for use by the head of the household.

Medieval antiques also include textiles which were a very important part of medieval life because they were versatile. They could be used for warmth, to divide a space into rooms, to hang over windows, and as decoration. Some textiles were very simple, but the wealthy may have owned elaborately decorated textiles. Although medieval textiles still exist, they are scarcer than other antiques. This is because the plainer, everyday textiles were used until they were worn out and because they were susceptible to fading and decay over time.

One characteristic of medieval antiques is the use of oak. Oak was frequently used because it was a strong wood that was readily available. Although oak was used frequently, it was not used exclusively, as different woods were available in different regions.

A major characteristic of medieval antiques is that they were typically assembled with wooden pegs. Occasionally, iron nails were used instead of the pegs. Furniture was rarely put together in any other fashion. Although glue was available, it would not have been used to assemble the frame of a piece of furniture. It was occasionally used to attach canvas or leather to the exterior of a piece for padding or decoration.

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