Illustrated Architecture Dictionary

Thomas Sheraton

Thomas Sheraton, like George Hepplewhite, followed the styles of the Adams but leaned more toward the Louis XVI and later French sources.

His earlier pieces, in spite of their excessive slenderness, were soundly constructed, and have outlasted many heavier articles of similar type.

Upholstery: His upholstery differed from Hepplewhite's, in that he revealed the frame, instead of entirely concealing it.

Chairbacks: His chairbacks were plain, lyred, or urned, the top line straight or slightly broken.

Legs: Slender fluted legs, round or square, tapered down to natural or spade feet. Chair arms were straight, or continuously curved from back to front. Caning marked many of his pieces.

Sideboards: Instead of the serpentine front of Hepplewhite's sideboards, Sheraton preferred a complete convex or a single swelling, set between square ends. He often used the brass railing at the back introduced by the Adam brothers, and concealed in the interior all sorts of small drawers, shelves and boxes.

Countless kidney-shaped desks and tables, card tables, sectional bookcases, and wardrobes complete the distinctive Sheraton contributions.

Satinwood was his favorite material, with mahogany for chairs, and for veneering. Carving was rarely used -- chiefly smaller Adam forms, such as rosettes, urns, sunbursts and vases. Ivory and brass key plates and metal drawer pulls were of the utmost simplicity.

Inlay: In inlay, he has never been surpassed, using kingwood, zebrawood, tulip, rosewood, and holly as his chief materials, often divided by narrow lines of ebony.


Starting in 1791 he published in four volumes "The Cabinet Maker's and Upholsterer's Drawing Book." At least six hundred cabinet makers and joiners subscribed to his to his book and it was immediately widely influential over a large part of the country.

During this period he did not have a workshop of his own and it is believed that Sheraton himself never made any of the pieces shown in his books. No pieces of furniture have ever been traced to him directly. So a piece of furniture described as being "by Sheraton" refers to the design and not to the maker of the piece.

In 1803 he published "The Cabinet Dictionary," a compendium of instructions on the techniques of cabinet and chair making
Then a year before his death, in 1805 he published the first volume of "Cabinet Maker, Upholsterer and General Artist's Encyclo


Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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