What to Look for When Buying Antique Furniture
The world of antiques is an amazing place. It’s filled with beautiful pieces that have a long history and sentimental value attached to them. Some of these pieces can even grow to a small collection that helps you foster a passion for buying and selling them.
The problem is that not all antiques are created equal. Some are overpriced with little value while others are underpriced with a tremendous value.
The trick to getting the best bargain for your dollar is knowing what to look for when buying antique furniture.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most important things that you need to inspect for before you commit to buying any antique.
1. Modern Repairs and Building Techniques
The biggest and most important thing you should look for when considering a piece of antique furniture is the presence of modern techniques and repairs. These can do everything from decreasing the value of an antique dramatically to helping you spot imitation antiques.
Tables made in the 1700s, for example, will seldom look exactly alike. They will not have screws, nor will they have modern glues. The joints may not fit perfectly, which is a result of both age and the fact that these pieces of furniture were hand-crafted rather than factory-made.
Telltale signs of modern techniques in “antiques” include:
- Screws and certain kinds of nails
- Epoxy and certain resins
- Perfect joints and legs
- Modern materials like pleather or vinyl
- Refinished surfaces
- Repairs made using a different type of material than the original furniture had
- Signs of recent alterations
The reason these signs are so important is that they represent reasons that an antique may be devalued from damage or that the antique may be a replica.
In both cases, this detracts from the aesthetic and monetary values of antique furniture. Furniture with these qualities should be avoided.
2. Aesthetic Value
Once you’ve ruled out the fakes and damaged antiques out there, the next step is simple when looking for antique furniture: follow your heart for what looks attractive.
Unique designs, imperfections that add character and even signs of wear and tear can add to the aesthetic value of a piece. This is because, at their very core, antiques are valuable for their unique beauty marks.
A valuable antique will seldom look perfect, just as a beautiful flower is seldom identical to another.
By following your nose to find what looks beautiful and authentic, you will develop a unique taste that will ultimately be more rewarding than following a collector’s advice on specific pieces.
Another imperative part of what makes an antique special is the history that is attached to it. Something as simple as being owned by a famous person is enough to make an antique valuable, but simple histories are seldom the best.
Consider a piece of antique furniture that you stumble upon in a residential garage sale: it may look humble, have some wear and tear, and be reasonable in terms of cost.
The quality that may separate it from everything else is the history attached to it. This piece may have been made by the person’s great grandfather. It may have been passed down for generations. It may have once been owned by a famous general whom devised a brilliant tactical plan on it using sticks and pebbles.
This same history is what makes an antique into something that is not only worth money, but one that also provides immense value in terms of conversational pieces.
No matter if a piece of antique furniture is your first or another addition to one of your existing collections, it’s important to consider how it fits with your own sense of style.
Victorian furniture may not fit well with pioneer-era furniture. The intricate details and heavy wood used may be too rich to allow the furniture to fit in with furniture that is simple, functional and made from common woods like birch.
A desk from the 1600s originating from England may, however, pair well with an oak chair upholstered with leather from the 1800s in the United States. Just because two antiques are from different eras does not mean that they cannot work together to create a beautiful collection.
With regards to the style of the antique furniture you are evaluating, it’s also important to include your personal needs. Just because a piece stands out by itself does not mean that it fulfills the functions you need, nor does it mean that it will fit with your other furniture.
This is why collecting antiques that fit your unique style is a careful balancing act.
5. Similar Furniture
Though no two antiques are alike due to traits like history and wear, similar types of antique furniture will always exist. This is because antiques from certain eras and areas will have similar traits due to the trends that existed in terms of style and craftsmanship.
When you think you have a particular piece of antique furniture that looks like it’s perfect, evaluate it by considering similar pieces of furniture. Something as simple as a quick search on your mobile phone may be enough to help you decide if that piece is really what you want to purchase.
If there are other antiques that have more aesthetic value or a greater history, then you may do well to refrain from impulse buying. Research is another useful tool that will help you make the best antique purchases.
Buying the Right Antiques Take Practice
No antique collector became a master, nor did he obtain a masterful collection overnight. It took diligence, practice and risk to create that masterful, history-filled collection that emanates history alongside aesthetics.
The best way to learn what to look for in an antique is to begin collecting, trading and selling them. What may be less desirable to one person may be invaluable to the next.
When you’re ready to begin your adventure into the wide and thrilling world of antiques, then visit Capital Bargain Barn. We specialize in antiques and used furniture that will delight you.