The Antiques Roadshow has made people consider selling their antique furniture and getting a profit from the sale, however, how do you know if your antique furniture is valuable? This article provides some guidelines on determining whether or not antique furniture is valuable. Of course, it needs to be considered that no person can provide a true answer of value for antiques other than experts such as Abbey Group.
The first question to ask yourself before engaging in an antique furniture sale is whether the antique furniture is old enough to be considered ‘antique’. If it is not old, it cannot be deemed antique or valuable.
Old furniture is not automatically an antique. This is a mistake made by many people where the term ‘antique’ is used interchangeably with ‘old’. To determine if the piece is an antique, it is recommended that you run your fingers over the back or underneath the item. If you find sharp edges or corners, it is more than likely a recently manufactured item. A distinctive curved pattern should be found in the sawn wood of pieces manufactured after 1840 – this is the sign of cutting using a circular saw.
Upholstery is another area that can contribute to the age of an item. To identify if the upholstery is original, it is recommended that you lift one edge to check for re-upholstering. For example, a chair rail that has numerous nail holes can be a sign of re-upholstering over the course of its life. Of course, only trained eyes can see this and this is why it is necessary to use the skills of a professional appraiser.
Screws can also indicate if furniture is antique. Old antique screws will be handmade and present with irregular widths between the spirals running along the full shaft. Newer screws are symmetrical with even and sharp points.
Irregular width on antique furniture can also be seen in wooden veneers. The veneers are also thick and can be compared to home-sliced bread. A modern veneer is much thinner with all slices being identical in width. It should also be mentioned that antique tables do not have plastic or metal taps on the bottom of the legs, however, these taps may have been added to older furniture.
Antique period table pedestals are typically reinforced with hand-hammered tri-part metal straps or metal disks where the legs are attached. In contracts, a 21st-century table will be reinforced with crimped staples that are far more symmetrical and sharp.
Finally, antique mirror glass is much thinner and darker in colour than modern glass. Before the 1800s, all mirrored glass was imported to America from Europe making it heavier and of a unique shaped when compared to local mirrors. To determine if the item is an old mirror, it is recommended that you hold the tip of a key to the glass. The closer the tip of the reflected image is to the tip of the key, the older the glass will be.
Furniture value is based entirely on four main criteria: rarity, quality, condition and provenance. Of course, only provenance and condition are easy to establish. The other two conditions will generally require a large amount of time, research and experience to identify. To discover the overall value accurately, it is recommended you hire a professional appraiser. They will be able to examine the four main criteria and the additional three elements of finish, colour and patina.
In addition to the above-mentioned characteristics of the antique furniture, there are specific details that need to be identified when evaluating the value of antique furniture. The replacing of mirror glass can devalue the mirror even more than if the silver back flaked or cracks appeared. Furthermore, the bonnet-top highboy is the most valuable type of mirror glass.