Antique Furniture Appraisals
Information on Antique Terms
It is important to know what you are buying with obtaining "antiques", and how authentic your piece is when you go to sell the item. Popular TV show appraisers informed us of the negative influence of refinishing antiques, but rarely inform of the other transgressions of antique furniture that unknowing collectors fall victim to. Here is a short list of terms to inform you about antique furniture.
The original varnish or patina "skin" has been removed either by sanding or chemicals usually down to bare wood.
Furniture legs are shortened, chair seats are modernized to be more comfortable, etc.
Finials are added, inlays are put in, carving added to previous plain areas.
The parts of two or more similar pieces are put together to make one new one. Plate racks are added to buffets. Early hardware is added to pieces from later dates.
The original finish is completely removed, and restoration of missing items is unnecessarily made. Items like finials are replaced although no one knows what the original really looked like. Patinas and finishes are faked to make them more attractive.
Applying varnish or wax to a deteriorating finish. Missing items have been replaced but are clearly noticeable.
Revival pieces are designs like Gothic, Louis XIV, Jacobean that are revived, and carried to extremes never done originally.
Adding spurious dates and names as well as patriotic motifs to authentic pieces, to make them more valuable. Furniture is made from period wood from old barn beams and plank flooring.
Tips for Antique Collectors
- Never use spray wax on antiques.
- The more simple the furniture design, the more valuable. Overly carved pieces are difficult to sell.
- The earliest furniture (Medieval, Renaissance) although the rarest is not the most valuable. Georgian and French 18th century is the most costly.
- Completely Refinishing always ruins the value of antique furniture.
- Antique beds are the most difficult piece of furniture to sell.
- Miniature and small antique furniture are more valuable than full size pieces.
- Cabinets, bookcases and armoires taller than 8 feet (ceiling height) drop dramatically in value.
- Furniture from the 1950's is now valuable.
- Original horsehair and other upholstery stuffing lowers the value, not increases it.
- The main rule about antique furniture is it must be practical, comfortable, useable, and the proper height.
- What causes a piece of antique furniture to bring a world record price is not rarity but rich patina color and great proportions.
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