Furniture is important for various reasons, yet its main purpose is mans basic need. By time it has mellowed into beautiful, elegant and valuable items providing a warm atmosphere for social life. “Antique Maltese Furniture” refers to early settlers who improvised and made furniture, helped by the geographical situation on the island. Local customs, materials available, construction in general and the evolution of the main European styles all influences furniture making in Malta. The development of furniture was created according to the changes of the island’s economy, which affected even the very rich.
In the sixteenth century, most of the towns, with the exception of Valletta, Mdina and the three cities, had only a few hundred inhabitants. These conditions forced the Grand Masters, Knights, nobility and the wealthy merchants to demand good furniture to be distributed in their several small palaces or large houses. Chairs, tables, beds and chests hod to be made in a way, so that they were easily transportable and some items. like beds and chests were taken apart then reassembled.
As elsewhere, styles were identified by the names of regency monarchs. In the case of Malta, the styles generally responded to the Governing Sovereign on the island. Through the centuries, Maltese furniture collected names like the “Age of the Senduq”, the “Age of Stars and Crosses”, and the “Age of Swags and Scrolls”. By the second quarter of the eighteenth century, furniture was one of the most important of crafts, and, for a person of wealth, his house and furniture presented a way of exhibiting good taste.
Perhaps, Malta, today, retains a certain nostalgia for the splendid styles of past centuries. Furniture manages to adapt itself to the current tastes, aiming as much at the lightness as at the severity of the classical style. This work is intended as a guide to the lover of woodcraft, to help him through the bewildering maze of antique pieces with which he is likely to come in contact. It sets out to help identify the age of a piece of furniture, to indicate comparative rarity, to give clues and to suggest what is worth having and what to leave to others.