An Introduction to my Resource List:

Good and wise people have suggest that perhaps a presentation of a bibliography or a list of references that I have used might also be useful to others who browse the various plans presented on this web site. Hummm, now why didn't I think of that?

Anyway, below is a list of books that I have in my library on the subject medieval furniture. One of the biggest problems with this area of study is decided scarcity of primary information, particularly for anything prior to the mid 15th century. Yet, it is not totally hopeless. Medieval paintings and drawings are replete with examples of medieval furniture, many of them in extremely fine detail. The trick is to understand enough about how a medieval carpenter, joiner, coffermaker, etc. would have gone about their trade to be able to examine the artists interpretation of their work with a knowing eye and to separate information from embellishment.

The references provided below a basis for developing that eye. Of particular use is Masterpieces of Furniture in Photographs and Measured Drawings by Verna Cook Salomonsky. The variety of pieces that have been recreated for this book, all from drawings and paintings, is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished.

This list is, of course, not all inclusive! it merely represents books I have in my library. From time to time I will update this list as I acquire additional books or discover other sources that would be useful to this list.

Have fun! make stuff!


Charles Oakley, Esq.

Furniture and its Construction:

OAK FURNITURE: The British Tradition, Victor Chinnery; 1979. The Antique Collector's Club, 5 Church Street, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England.
ISBN: 1 85149 013 2

This book is probably one of the best available source books for examples of English Oak furniture from the 16th century forward with some examples and illustrations from 14th and 15th centuries. 22 color and 2000 B/W photos and illustrations. 618 pages.

Consructing Medieval Furniture, Daniel Diehl; 1997, Stackpole Books, 5067 Ritter Rd. Mechanicsburg, PA.
ISBN: 0-8117-2795-5

Numerous examples and plans for the construction of medieval furniture with historical notations.

SELLA CURULIS: The Folding Stool, Ole Wanscher: 1980, Rosenkilde and Bagger, Copenhagen.
ISBN 87-423-0337-0

Traces the history of the folding stool/chair ("X" chairs) through nearly 4000 years of history and across multiple cultures. 350 pages.

English Medieval Furniture and Woodwork, Charles Tracy: 1988, Victoria and Albert Museum, England.
ISBN 1851770453

A catalog of English medieval furniture and woodwork held by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Wonderfully detailed photography.

Old English Furniture, Frederich Fenn and B. Wyllie: 1920, B.T. Batsford, England.
No ISBN number.

Although this book is mostly focused on furniture of the 17th century and later there are several nice plates of late 16th century tables and chests on the first few pages of the book. Minimal information beyond that.
No ISBN number.

English and American Furniture, Herbert Cescinsky and George Leland Hunter: 1929, Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., Garden City, New York.

Chapter 2 deals with Gothic and Tudor Oak Furniture and a reading of Chapter 3 ( English and American Furniture of the 17th Century Type) is a nice follow on where the reader can see the evolution of period pieces. B/W clear photos.

Masterpieces of Furniture in Photographs and Measured Drawings, Verna Cook Salomonsky: 1974, Dover Publications, New York.
ISBN 0486-21381-1

Originally executed in 1930, this book is a collection of museum pieces that the author had the opportunity to photograph and execute measured drawings of. Earliest pieces are 16th century.

Master Pieces - Making Furniture from Paintings, Richard Ball and Peter Campbell: 1983, Hearst Books, New York.
ISBN 0-688-02488-2

An interesting book. 20 examples of furniture made based on information gleaned from paintings and illustrations, 8 examples of period. Wonderful explainations of the thought processes and methodologies used to reproduce these pieces. Plans and parts lists included. Some information on finishes provided. Be sure to check out the rather fantastic early 16th century chair (St. Augustine's Chair from a painting by Vittore Carpaccio). It could be easily considered to be artistic fantasy, if it wasn't for the picture of a surviving 15th century example the author included!

Housing and the Home Environment:

The English Mediaeval House, Margaret Wood, 1994, Studio Editions Ltd., Princess House, London, England.
ISBN: 1-85891-167-2

Covers housing and home construction from the time of the Norman Conquest to 1540.

Misc. Wooden Objects:

TREEN and other wooden bygones, Edward H. Pinto: 1969, G. Bell & Sons Ltd., York House, London, England.
ISBN 0-7135-1533-3

 

Understanding Medieval Technology in a Period Context:

The Medieval Machine, Jean Gimpel: 1976, Penguin Books, New York.
ISBN 0-14-004514-7

 

Techniques:

The Complete Guide to Decorative Woodworking, Alan and Gill Bridgewater: 1986, Chartwell Books,Inc., Secausus, NJ.
ISBN 1-55521-088-0

A "how to" book illustrating a number of relief and chip carving techniques. A number of "period" examples are shown.

Finishes:

The Craftsman's Handbook "Il Libro dell' Arte", Cennino d'Adrea Cennini (Translated by Daniel V. Thompson, Jr.), 1966, Dover Publications, New York.
ISBN 486-20054-X

Cennini was a 15th century Italian painter. This book is a translation of his book on how to create paints, mordants and other finishes used in his art. It also contains (pages 109-110) an explaination on how he finished "Caskets and Chests". Explainations of how to make the various varnishes, gessos, colors, etc. can be found in other parts of the book.

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