Without training, you may look at a piece of furniture and suspect that it is antique because it reflects a specific style or time period. However, in the world of antique appraisal, not everything is what it seems and just because a piece looks old, it does not always mean that it actually is. There are four simple tips you can use, even without professional training, to determine if a suspected antique is actually as old as it appears.
1. Look for Irregular Wood Veneers - Thin wood veneers have been in use for a long time, but you should be able to spot irregularities of the widths of wooden veneers on an actual antique piece. While modern furniture manufacturers apply wooden sheets and strips that are uniformly cut, years ago, the same precision could not be accomplished.
2. Take a Close Look at Glass Mirrors - If your furniture piece boasts a glass mirror, it could be the key to determining of the piece is actually antique or not. Until the 1800s, glass mirrors were imported and were all a lot the same, with characteristic gray color tones and wavy discrepancies in the surface of the glass. Even beyond this point when domestic mirrors were used in furniture making, there was a big difference in what modern mirrors look like today. Take a close look at the glass mirror on your furniture piece, looking for waviness and a dim reflection.
3. Checkout the Hardware - Screws and fasteners manufactured today are machine cut and basically all the same. However, screws and hardware from antique times were usually handmade by a blacksmith. Remove a screw from an inconspicuous area carefully, and examine the space between the threads for uniformity to determine if your furniture is as old as it appears.
4. Examine the Upholstery - Chairs and other upholstered items can be easier to check for antiquity than some all-wood pieces. Antique furniture pieces with cushions were often reupholstered many times, but the underlying upholstery was not always completely removed. Check out the base of a cushioned seat and look for signs of varying layers of upholstery. In some cases, you will be lucky enough to find many layers still in tact and the materials themselves can give you a good idea of how far back the piece dates.
With a little time and attention, you can easily determine if what you believe to be an antique is actually an old piece of furniture. If you are ever in doubt and need advice, talk to an antique appraisal expert for more information.
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