A guide to: Antique beds

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"My second-best bed, with the furniture", William Shakespeare famously bequeathed to his wife in his last will and testament. Whatever the reason for her not inheriting the best bed (a much-debated topic), his words are proof of just how valuable today’s antique beds once were in households up until the 18th century. 

From Edwardian to Victorian beds, early pieces served as important status symbols as well as functional furniture. Antique beds were once at the centre of day-to-day happenings, with meetings and receptions often held in bedrooms. And they can still be the centrepiece of a room today. 

Bringing antique beds into your sleeping space brings a style, charm and joy that modern counterparts can’t compete with. With a gloriously comfortable mattress, everything from antique brass beds to four-posters can be a true haven you’ll crave at the end of the day.

Understanding antique beds

Furniture-makers have always followed the fashion of the times, making it easier to identify the source and date of a piece. Whatever period, good design and craftsmanship reign supreme in the world of antique beds - the more lavish the construction the better. 

If you already own antique beds and are curious to pin down values, our guide to determining what antique furniture is worth should help. For a closer inspection into everything from Edwardian beds to grand four-posters, read on...

Four-poster beds
Antique four-poster beds for sale can go back as far as the late 14th century, when the first four-poster was manufactured. Also known as a ‘tester’ bed, these were developed from medieval canopied beds and often made from solid oak. Curtains were added to the front and sides to keep in the heat and keep out the sunlight. 

Some antique four-poster beds for sale will be from the 16th and 17th centuries. An early 17th-century oak tester bed with carved figures and fluted balusters can value anywhere between £10,000 and £20,000, depending on how much is genuine. For a 19th-century copy, you can still fetch up to £6,000 at auction - less than £2,000 if carvings are a bit clumsy.

Antique brass beds
Antique brass beds hit Britain in the 1820s - the Victorians loved them. The typical design of antique brass beds is still produced today, with curves and scrolls and florals decorating headboards and footboards. Victorian beds from the 19th century aren’t hard to come across and a plain design generally costs no more than £500. Many Edwardian beds were also made from brass, also not as heavily decorated as the Victorians. Softer, elegant designs with fluid lines and feminine headboards are indicators of these antique beds.

Antique French beds
There are a few types of antique French beds for sale. The most elaborate specimen (apart from royal ‘state’ antique beds, which are primarily museum pieces and rarely up for sale) is the throne-like French boat-style lit-en-bateau. Made in the 19th century, these ornate antique beds can reach £10,000 or more, with plainer styles fetching between £3,000 to £4,000.

Antique French beds made in Louis XV and XVI style are more attainable for collectors, especially bedroom suites produced by furniture-makers such as Frenchman Linke. These sell for up to £10,000, or between £2,000 and £5,000 for simpler designs. If you’re looking for feminine designs, 18th-century rococo antique French beds will give any room a stunning dose of elegance.

Where to buy antique beds for sale

Whether it’s antique king size beds to kit out a designer den or antique single beds for a unique guest room, antique beds are both a beautiful and valuable investment. Buy what you love - especially if you’re decorating a sleeping space - but do arm yourself with a mental checklist before buying to aid in authenticating a piece. 

Inspecting a piece close-up can really make a difference - visit Hemswell Antique Centres for a browse through our generous collection of furniture. We know it’s not always a simple job to squeeze heavy furniture into your vehicle, so we also offer a handy and reliable home delivery service to make your visit that little bit easier. 

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