Auctions and garage sales are the perfect way to find good buys on antique furniture. However, just because a piece looks old does not make it valuable. While the presentation may sound alluring, use these suggestions to know for sure.
1. Old Versus Antique
An authentic antique piece of furniture is one that is predated before the mass production era. If dated, but not necessarily antique, the piece should be referred to as vintage. The 100-year mark is assumed by many that advertise antique furniture, but as time marches on, this may not be a correct statement. Mass production began around 1830 and anything made before this era is truly an antique. One trick that a few antique stores will use in moving vintage furniture is to mix in vintage pieces with antique pieces. An entire area may appear to be filled with antiques, but always check your desired piece carefully.
2. Look for Hand Crafted Details
Perfect symmetry is a dead give-a-way of a manufactured piece of furniture. On the outside a dresser or chair may appear to be aligned and appealing, but check the joints underneath. Signs of irregular dove tailing or different types of wood for securing the joints will clarify an antique. Dove tails were still used in early mass manufacturing, but they will have perfectly cut edges. These are little pieces of wood, triangular in shape, that were used to stabilize joints. Also look for stamps or worn paper under a drawer or seat for an indication of the manufacturer. You may even find the year of production.
3. Request an Appraisal
If further clarification is needed, go online and ask an expert in the antique business. A simple photo and as much information as you can provide will give you a response in a few days. If the item is rather expensive, it could be worth your time to hire a professional appraiser. While their fee may be anywhere from $200 to $400 per hour, this could be good money invested versus buying a less-than-valuable piece of antique furniture. If you are unfamiliar with where to turn for appraisals, check with the American Society of Appraisers or the Appraisers Association of America for members in your area.
Owning antique furniture is fulfilling and a great investment. By following these tips, you will be sure that you are not being blind sighted by someone that may not know an actual value.