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A closer look at: Antique screens


Antique screens were originally crafted for functional purposes, to protect sitters from draughts or heat. They quickly became stunning decorative items in their own right - and still are today.

For British buyers, a particular quirky charm lies in antique screens. Carry On films come to mind - with clothing being flung over screens to roars of laughter - or Angus McGill postcards in all their seaside sauciness.

From oriental pieces to wartime antique screens, the diverse and beautiful range of styles makes them fascinating to collect, as well as statement additions to interior spaces.

A brief history of antique screens

Folding antique screens

The Victorians loved their screens. Antiques found from the era today can be made from solid wood, embroidered silks, glass (plain and stained), mirrors and ceramic tiles. Folding antique screens would act as draught-excluders, but were also used to conceal unsightly clutter or divide up a space. An 18th-century leather-embossed example can fetch up to £10,000.

Antique fire screens

Antique fire screens for sale from the 1880s are likely to be those imported from the Orient. They’re not often in top condition but decent examples can still fetch around £500. Acting as a shield from the flames, antique fire screens are utilised as functional furniture in homes today - particularly period buildings.

When central heating was introduced to homes, antique screens went into decline as utilitarian pieces. Their role became purely decorative in Edwardian drawing rooms. Young women would ‘decoupage’ screens, pasting cuttings from 19th-century magazines and newspapers onto a base before varnishing it. These eye-catching antique screens sell for between £300 to £500 today.

Oriental antique screens

Blooming cherry blossoms, historic battles, vibrant-coloured birds… Japanese antique screens are true works of art. At the top end, you’ll find Edo screens, while those from the Meiji period (1868 to 1912) can be purchased for a couple of thousand pounds. Prices will inflate if screens are painted by iconic artists such as Tawaraya Sotatsu or Katsushika Hokusai.

Many Japanese antique screens for sale have been transformed into cabinets. These unique pieces can have up to 12 panels and can fetch up to £10,000 at auction. As with all antiques, the value of screens varies depending on the age, quality and condition.

Where to buy antique screens for sale

Whether you’re on the hunt for a charming chinoiserie antique screens or a lacquered Japanese gem, you’ll find some quality pieces if you know the right places to look. Those with an eye for antique screens will spot a few treasures at Hemswell Antiques Centres. Within our inexhaustible furniture collections, you’ll find an eclectic range of antique screens for sale.

From utilitarian dividers to elaborately embellished antique screens, you can pick up genuine quality pieces at modest prices. There’s a lot more hidden away in our Lincoln base - those who seek them out in person are rewarded with unique pieces of history, without breaking the bank. And you’ll have a lot of fun - and plenty of cake - on your antique hunt, too. Come visit.

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