The timeless beauty of a piece of fine-woven wicker furniture goes as far back as ancient Egypt. While the great pyramids were being built, there was wicker being woven to provide the elite classes with chairs, tables and more. In archaeological discoveries, there have been woven pieces found throughout the former Egyptian empire. Historians believe that the sturdy grasses that grew along the Nile River were used to make baskets, trunks and more. As people began to travel further, the Romans, Spanish, Portuguese and English began to see the appeal in the durable beauty of wicker.
By the early 1900s the Victorian-era English had taken to wicker furniture. It was seen as a cleaner alternative due to the fact that it did not collect dust, smells, mold or mildew like its fabric counterparts. Since entertaining in the garden was the thing to do, it was not uncommon to see English Aristocrats lounging on fine wicker pieces enjoying the afternoon tea. Victorian-era wicker is ornate and stunning. The profiles of the pieces are shapely with smooth curves. The chairs usually boast a high back, round tables were most common. The colors ranged from a deep chocolate brown to a pure ivory white. Victorian-era wicker is highly collectible.
The first pieces of wicker came to America on the Mayflower; however it didn’t catch on in popularity until the late 19th century when Cyrus Wakefield discovered large quantities of rattan shipments on the Boston dockyards. Being a true entrepreneur, he recognized the potential in the material for furniture, and soon began his business of producing furniture under the name Wakefield Furniture Company. By the 1920s there was a vast assortment of wicker furniture and designs available to the American public. Cyrus Wakefield is still known as the grandfather of wicker furniture.
The word wicker actually refers to the weaving of the materials into a finished product; a common misconception is that wicker is an actual material. The most common materials used in wicker furniture production are: rattan, paper, cane and various grasses. Modern wicker furniture is made primarily with rattan, using an aluminum frame and resin wicker for outdoor furniture.
The modern wicker collector should have a selection of styles ranging from Victorian-era, Wakefield and of course the sleek 21st century styles. Modern wicker furniture tends to have sharper lines, comes in a various colors and shapes and can be made to fit any budget.
Wicker is a great choice for people who want a timeless piece of furniture that is easy to care for.