I don't sell a lot of antique beds. Why is that?
Maybe I just stink at sales. But more likely, it's because:
1. Many antique beds were heavily upholstered or were built right into (and were part of) room paneling (called "boiserie" and pronounced "bwah zer REE"), and as a result, not that many genuine antique beds survive to this day; and
2. 18th c. and 19th c. antique beds were not built to our modern standard sizes (e.g., Eastern King, Cal King, Queen, etc.)--and very few people want to do custom matresses and linens.
And even fewer people are foolish enough to "chop" a perfectly good antique bed to conform to modern dimensions. That explains why our custom workshop is often tasked with creating antique-inspired bed reproductions. Here's a lacquered chinoiserie king bed we created:
Nonetheless, I get a lot of questions and requests for antique beds so it's probably worthwhile to cover them here.
You can best understand antique beds if you understand antique bed terminology:
Tester or baldacchino: a full canopy that may or may not be supported by posts
Half Tester: a half tester is a partial canopy above the headboard
Lit (pronounced "lee"): the word for bed in French
Lit à Colonnes (pronounced "ah coh LUN"): a four poster bed with a full canopy. Here's an example of an English Jacobean lit à colonnes
Lit à Couronne ("ah koo RUN"); a lit a bateau (boat bed) with a crown shaped canopy
Lit à la Duchesse ("ah la doo SHESS"): a bed introduced in the 17th c. with a low headboard
Lit à la Polonaise ("ah la puh low NEZ"): a bed where the head and feet are the same size
Lit à la Turque ("ah la TURK"): a bed placed horizontally against a wall
Lit d'Ange ("DAHNZH"): a bed with a tester but no posts (the tester floats like an "angel" over the bed)--the à la Turque bed above is also a lit d'Ange.
Lit de Anglais: ("dahn GLAY"): same as a lit à la Turque (see above)
Lit de Parade ("duh puh RAHD"): a bed with elaborate curtaining and canopy
Lit de Repos ("dur ruh POE"): a daybed
Lit en Bateau ("ahn ba TOE"): a boat shaped bed
Lit Jumeaux ("zhoo MOE")k: a twin bed