Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Victorian Parlor : The Tete a Tete

Nothing 'finishes off" a Victorian Parlor like a 'Tete a Tete' settee. These pieces are increasingly hard to find and highly desired by those recreating a Period perfect formal parlor.

The tete a tete was designed to physically separate it's two occupants. People faced in opposite directions but could easily communicate.

Known also as a 'gossip bench' or "courting sofa" it enabled the occupants to conduct a proper conversation. Courting sofa was something of a misnomer as few mothers would dare let a potential caller sit that close to one's daughter.

It was one of those 'eclectic pieces of furniture generally reserved for larger Parlors and often served as bridge piece between two sitting areas. Say a settee on one side of a room and a pair of chairs on a another.

What to look for? Well form. the steam bent versions with curved seats are much more desired as they have better lines. In the more " eastlake form' You might find incised carving or in very rare cases ebonizied finishes with gold incising. Avoid the mahogany pieces with federal style backs. These are often reproduction and not worth buying made in Malaysia.

It's a rare occasion to find a complete parlor set in the same style that includes a tete a tete, you will come accoss individual chairs that match sometimes. Prices are all over the place. Rare examples by Horner can fetch 10 figures and you can find lesser examples, perhaps needing upholstery for under 500-1000.00. They are elusive but if you look hard enough and long enough you may be able to add one to your collection.

1 comment:

Penny said...

Hi Paul -

I am looking for a tete-a-tete or an indiscret. I realize you said it is hard to find one but I was wondering if you are aware of any companies that make reproductions of them? Any help you have would be most appreciated.

Most Hopeful -