A Guide to Buying Antique Furniture

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How to Recognise Fake and Original Antique Furniture

People love nostalgia and cherish the ability to hold on to the beauty of a bygone era. Perhaps that is why antique furniture is so popular across the world. Indeed, furniture pieces made as far back as the 17th century are still in demand today because of their rarity, originality, incredible history and exquisite craftsmanship.
First, do your research and understand the characteristics of furniture belonging to specific eras, depending on what you're interested in. Make sure that you deal only with reputed antique dealers. Examine their collections and the pieces that fascinate you, ask the dealer lots of questions and if you decide to buy a piece, always get a detailed receipt.

It often takes an expert eye to spot fake antiques but remember the following about real antiques:
They will never be sold for throwaway prices and tend to be one of a kind. They will have consistent markings indicating wear and tear. The back and undersides of antiques are usually unvarnished and unpainted. Pegged joints will protrude slightly.

How to date antique furniture
The type of wood/varnish used, design of drawer knobs/handles, type of chair seats and chair backs and intricacy of carvings are just some aspects that can help experts accurately identify the period to which a piece of furniture belongs.

Here are the highlights of the most popular styles of antique furniture:

Jacobean (1600-1690): Usually made of oak and pine; characterised by flatter carvings, arcaded panels, guilloches, iron hinges, mortise and tenon construction.

Georgian (1714 – 1760): Usually made of hickory, maple, and ash; characterised by ornately carved chair legs, mohair fabric, oil varnish and ball and claw foot.

Chippendale (1750 – 1790): Tends to have Gothic, Chinese, or French influences and is mostly made of cherry and mahogany; characterised by lattice splat chair backs, bracket foot and fabrics such as brocade and silk.

Federal (1780 – 1820): Usually made of black walnut and cherry; characterised by fiddle back chair backs, mushroom-shaped brass knobs and motifs such as pineapples, eagles, and stars.

Empire (1800 – 1840): Usually made of black walnut and cherry; characterised by crosspiece chair backs, splayed chair legs, rosette drawer knobs and dovetail joints.

Victorian (1840 – 1910): Tends to have elaborate carvings and a dark finish; characterised by meticulous detailing, balloon chair backs, fabrics like velour, whorl foot, foliage motifs and fretwork; typically made of oak, ash and butternut.

Although they can be expensive, antique furniture pieces add character and gravity to your home. An antique dresser, mirror, bookcase, confiturier, armchair or a coffee table can look dramatic and make for an excellent ‘statement’ piece.

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