It’s hard to believe that the nation’s 250th anniversary will take place in 2026. Colonial Williamsburg, the best-known “living museum” dedicated to the Colonial era will mark its 100th anniversary in that year. The nation’s Centennial Exhibition seemed to both mark the founding of the country as well as the industrial progress that had been made in the first century since the Revolution. Along with showing industrial might, there was a revival of sorts of Colonial-era styles.

Those of us prone to checking dovetails, looking at wood screws, feeling the undersides of drawers and noting saw patterns also were warned by “old timers” that in 1876 “centennial colonial” furniture could easily be mistaken for examples from the 1700s. Some was made in the style and with the hand tools of the 1700s.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. initiated the efforts to restore portions of Williamsburg to its Colonial era in 1926. The effort that followed certainly raised the interest in collecting antiques of the era, along with the 1920s work of Wallace Nutting, which included his photographs and prints of Colonial Era scenes and Colonial-Revival furniture. “Antiques, The Magazine” also began publishing in the 1920s. The colonial “look” remained popular for decades.

Fast-forward and the antiques of the era, especially furniture, have lost some of the earlier appeal. Some attribute it to baby-boomers downsizing and flooding the market. Some say it’s the popular “open concept” of home designs that require less furniture. Then, there is just a matter of taste and trends of different generations. And the accessories of the period, for the most part, follow the home trends.

Personally, I believe the advent of the “live” internet auctions has had an impact on antique furniture. While sellers (and collectors) of smaller items have benefited from the wider audience, furniture, may have suffered from a smaller in-gallery audience along with the cost of shipping. Even local antiques dealers have to consider the effort to haul furniture to shows and back to shops or storage.

Whatever the case, the 100th anniversary of Colonial Williamsburg and the 250th anniversary of  Independence is worth noting leading up to the 2026 events.