About the Centre

CEFA is the only auction centre dedicated to the supply of items from the periods which, in the world of furniture, can broadly be described as the oak periods. These encompass the 16th to the 18th centuries, the developments of the early 19th century and later revivals. Our interest covers all items from these periods and, although from the late 17th century it often became fashionable to use walnut and later mahogany, oak continued to play a significant role and over the Napoleonic period in the early 19th century it came back to the fore.

The concept for the centre has been developed by CEFA’s senior director, Louise Forster and has been evolving both before and throughout her career as an expert within this specialist field.

The CEFA service to buyers, sellers and those with a developing interest in the subject, is provided by a team of dedicated scholars, experts and professionals whose passion is in finding, documenting and then auctioning the best, the most interesting and most original in their chosen field and, as importantly, supporting this work through providing meaningful and reliable information and research on the items being offered.

To further support our interest in the period, CEFA promotes conservation over restoration and the encouragement of an increased appreciation and understanding of history through objects.

The development and growth of the business over more than 25 years has created the necessity for a larger base and the CEFA directors were privileged to be offered a site in 2014 within the beautiful Swinton Estate, adjacent to the Swinton Park Hotel on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Swinton Park is the ancestral home of the Earl of Swinton and owned and run by the Cunliffe-Lister family.

England and the Oak Periods

The oak is native to the Northern hemisphere and supports more life forms than any other native tree. It is held in high regard in many parts of Europe but in England the oak has become the national tree and has played an important part in its culture. It has for centuries been a national symbol of strength and our forebears used to carry acorns for good luck and to ward off illness. The oak has also had strong religious and royal associations and produces one of the most durable and prized timbers which was the primary ship-building material until well into the 19th century.

The oak is almost a part of England’s psyche and inevitably it has played a major part in the making of furniture and household artefacts. There has been a developing interest in the role it has played and that of the other indigenous timbers, which was given a major advance through the important reference works of Bill Cotton and Victor Chinnery, who have given a significant foundation to our understanding of the way these timbers were used, the forms and development of furniture, coupled with the many regional variations associated with them.

It is not possible, however, to look at items in isolation and all these must be considered within the context of their time and surroundings. CEFA has, therefore, developed a team that specialises in the diverse range of the arts throughout these oak periods and understands how they were influenced and inter-relate one with another. An influence that came not only from within our own shores but increasingly, from the near continent and farther afield. Trading ships, particularly from the East India Company, sailed to ever more exotic shores and returned with goods which caused huge interest and excitement at the time and which have now become an enriching part of the house interior of these periods. The influences which this trade and these goods engendered were significant and far-reaching and some can still seem extraordinary to us today, whilst others are now so widespread and deeply embedded into our surroundings that we barely notice they are there. They are, however, of particular interest to us and we will highlight some of these as they appear in the items consigned to us for sale.

Our auctions specialise in these oak periods and our series of sales in 2016 is entitled ‘Early Furniture and Relating Master Works of Art’ and for which we are now receiving consignments and inviting applications for entry. In order to request a valuation, to make an application to consign an item for one of these sales or to discuss the current state of the market, we would be pleased to hear from you and ask that you contact us for an appointment or send us an e-mail.

CEFA has a wide range of departments and specialisations and offers the highest level of knowledge and connoisseurship. These, coupled with a traditional standard of personal service, allows us to offer the best possible potential for the sale of your items.

Our specialisations are listed here and if you would like to contact a specialist or make an appointment, please ring us or use the 'Contact Form' form.