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Collecting Corbels

Collecting Corbels

Dresser with vintage collectibles, including old corbels

Add this fun architectural salvage collectible to your farmhouse.

I have always been in love with chippy vintage corbels. I look at them as decorative pieces that represent all the things in our lives that give us support: our families, our homes and our closest friends.

What Is a Corbel?

A corbel is a bracket that is embedded into a wall so it supports whatever is above it and counteracts any tendency for it to overturn or fall outward. The word corbel comes from the Latin word corvus, which means “raven,” and also derives from a French word meaning “crow,” because of the corbel’s beaklike shape.

decorative corbels add architectural interest and vintage feel
Photo by Natalie Lacy Lange.

Most modern corbels are simple in design. However, they have a more elaborate history. Many of the French and Italian corbels were very ornate, as you can see on some of the oldest churches throughout Europe.

Hunting Corbels

I found my first corbel at a small vintage sale in Southern California. I paid $25 for two 18-inch corbels and decided, in that moment, that I needed more. Little did I know how popular and expensive corbels would become. I have since purchased four other sets, and each I found at a flea market. I don’t want to pay more than I did for the first ones I found, so I’ve had to pass on over 100 other sets that were way outside my price range.

decorative corbel
Photo by Bret Gum.

I have had a lot of people ask me if you can use vintage corbels for their original purpose. Since corbels provide support, you can use them for structural support. Just be cautious, as some vintage pieces may not be structurally sound. I like to use vintage corbels for “decorative support,” whether in the top of a doorway or holding up a shelf. Corbels also look great as decorative accent pieces.

Vintage vs Vintage-Inspired

There are a lot of less-expensive corbels on the market. They look vintage but are actually new. These are great as decorative structural pieces, but be aware they’re sometimes disguised as vintage. Personally, I don’t think it matters if corbels are vintage or new. If you find some you like and they are within your price range, then buy them! You’ll be able to use them as décor in your home for a long time.

Insider’s Guide

Availability: Readily available, though there are more reproductions than true antiques

Best places to score: Flea markets

Average price range: As low as $12 each, though most are more expensive

 Looking for more collecting tips? Read on about Jadeite Dishware. Of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of farmhouse inspiration!

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