Hemswell Antique Centres

How can we help?

Treen antiques: What are they and where can I find them?

Treen antiques: What are they and where can I find them?

Dating mainly from the 19th-century, antique treen is highly desirable among collectors. You’d be surprised at how many wooden pieces fall into the category. So, here's what you need to know about these small turned or carved items, looking at everything from Welsh love spoons to fruitwood tea caddies.

What are treen antiques?

Before mass-production revolutionised the world of ceramics, wooden household items and utensils such as spoons, bowls and places were handmade for poorer homes. Collectively, these items are labelled as antique treen - the word ‘treen’ literally meaning ‘of a tree’.

While the most common antique treen dates back to the 19th century, turners began turning in the 17th century - the days before pewter, silver and ceramic tableware. If you ever come across one of these carved wooden objects in person (come trawl our antique treen collection, we have plenty), you’ll see the woods used produce a blend of beautifully rich colours - and of course, that pined-for patination.

Which treen antiques are most valuable?

Antique treen for sale hasn’t always been sought as eagerly as it is now. In the past, collectors viewed treen antiques as poor in comparison to furniture and artwork. But while prices have boomed over recent decades, you can still pick up a good English piece for as little as £25-£30.

Treen antiques from France, Italy and other continental countries can fetch higher prices. These were usually made for the wealthy, so are often more elaborately carved than English examples. As always, values vary depending on the quality, maker, and rarity of the antique treen itself. Generally, here’s what makes collectors’ weak at the knees:

  • Trompe l’oeil dummy board figures. If you love pacing the rooms of country houses, you’ll have seen a dummy board - those flat, oil-painted figures on chamfered boards to create 3D illusions. Whether they were created to give the illusion of company to the rich and lonely or were simply stylish 17th-century diversions, their purpose remains a mystery. These curious antique treen artefacts can value anywhere between £2,000 to £10,000, depending on age.

  • Welsh love spoons. In the 17th-century, these treen antiques were romantic gifts, given to express love (and to show off the skills of the carver). The intricate carvings were at their peak in the 17th-century, where fine examples in turned lignum vitae (a particularly hard wood) can fetch over £10,000 at auction.

  • Fruitwood tea caddies. Perfect for collectors on a budget, these treen antiques can sell for a few pounds, or they can go for thousands. If tea caddies are shaped like an apple, melon, pear or gourd, you’re looking at more than £2,000 for a quality example.

Where to find antique treen for sale

Woodenware can be picked up from antique shops, fairs and even the odd boot sale, if you’re lucky. We stock a huge collection of treen antiques for sale - quality, genuine pieces at affordable prices. Nothing compares to viewing these items in person - feeling the reassuring weight of a hardwood bowl, or admiring the patina of a mahogany book end. You’ll find us just outside Lincoln. With four buildings, two coffee shops, 400 dealer displays and the largest collection of antiques in Europe, a day wandering Hemswell is like a Disneyland trip for antique’s lovers. Come and find a treasure.

Back to articles