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before & after primer: tips for identifying antiques


image above via wgbh/antiques roadshow. i couldn’t resist.

before we dive into before & afters today i wanted to share some quick tips from writer kay davenport. kay writs a site called antique furniture where she helps friends and family learn how to restore and evaluate their pieces, and today she’ll be sharing a few helpful tips for determining the quality of antique furniture you find online or in person at thrift stores and flea markets. i’ve been wanting to do a more in-depth version of this idea for a while, so stay tuned for that, but i’m happy to share these quick starter ideas from kay today, ranging from how to identify antiques through saw patterns and veneers and great resources for estimating price and manufacturers. thanks, kay!

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!

Tips To Determine Manufacturers of Antique Furniture

Determining the exact manufacturers of antique furniture pieces is next to
impossible on the majority of furnishings that have not been marked. What
can be determined is an approximate furniture age based upon construction
styles and techniques. It is also easy to determine the general global
region of origin that is based upon known historical furniture fashion
trends for various places and times throughout history.

Tricks that can help to tell the age of antique furniture:

Antique furniture pieces are 100-years old or older. In America, you will
find lots of furniture and other items being called antiques that are too
new to qualify for that designation. At the time of this writing, antique
furniture pieces were made during the late Victorian era and prior. Screws
will be irregular, veneers will be thick, and the majority of woods will
be cut from old trees that have a different appearance in their grain
patterns than new younger trees.

Saw patterns can help to identify or date furniture that was made prior to
1820. Prior to 1820, planks would be cut with a saw that went up and down,
and smaller saws that went in circles. These heavy looking erratic saw
marks will show on some of the pre-1820 wood that was used to make
furniture. Between 1820 and about 1900 large circular saws were placed
into use that left a large arc pattern on the wooden furniture materials.
After 1900, these larger saw marks became more refined and eye-pleasing in
appearance.

Fantasy antique items are made from blending old parts into a new antique
piece of furniture. These interesting examples of craft projects are not
considered to be extremely valuable by antique collectors even if all of
the parts being used are over 100-years old. Common match-ups include
mirrors added to furniture that originally did not have a mirror, and
extra decorative scrolled wood pieces added to dress plain furniture up.
True period antiques will be uniform in styling from all angles.

Antique furniture manufacturers that signed their pieces would often do so
with a small paper label or ink mark. Over the years, the paper labels
come loose, and the ink marks fade. One of the best methods of identifying
who made your antique piece of furniture is though studying the upper-end
auction house listings for furniture that is made in the same general
period of time as you believe your piece to be. These auction listings are
often made available to the public online and most give a detailed history
of the makers if it is known.

About the Author:

Kay Davenport writes for Antique Furniture, her personal hobby blog
focused on experiences related to <a href=”
http://www.antiquesfurniture.org/ “>antique furniture restoration</a>. She
helps her family and friends to learn how to restore and evaluate their
antique pieces.

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6 Comments

Sarah

Perhaps “real” antiques are 100+ years old, but on the West Coast, the term “antique” is commonly understood to mean 50+ years old. Real Victorian-era furniture is pretty rare out here!

grace

sarah

50 years is the absolute “youngest” antiques can be to still be considered antiques. i think people are definitely fast and loose with terms these days, so i’m going to try to do more posts like this to help people tell the difference. it can definitely save you some money ;)

grace

SU

Great info, I have some pieces that my greatgrandfather made in his furniture business. I do have a very old coffee/tea pot that is marked Prussia, I need to have more info on it and value. Where is a good easy site to find out about this piece.

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