But is it really an antique or a reproduction of an antique?
An antiques expert shared some insight. He said that most of the time it is a reproduction that could be either beautifully made or poorly made. Generally, original surviving antiques, if in perfect condition, are in museums or private collections.
Make sure you buy from a reputable dealer. Nowadays, fakes are being produced to resemble old pieces complete with some distressing. Buying from a reputable dealer may cost more, but give you the assurance that the piece is an antique.
One of the best things to do if you are interested in buying antiques is to educate yourself. Look through antique books to learn about the style features associated with that time period, types of wood used and other details. This will arm you with information if you see a piece freely mixing period details so that you know it a fake.
Here are some guidelines for selecting antiques:
Most importantly, antiques usually are not perfect after 100 years of being in a home. They usually have some nicks and dents from use especially if they have a high sheen finish. An would be oriental lacquered furniture, because of the way the finish is applied. It involves multiple layers of lacquer, which develops a thick finish that its hard to dent. Furniture and furnishings done in the Chinese taste, commonly known as Chinoiserie, also have this thick multiple layers of lacquer.
Also look for signs of weathering in the wood, from exposure to changes in the temperature of homes before air conditioning. Make sure you look inside the piece and underneath it. Antiques were not made with wood fillers, screws or nails. So check to see what kind of joint the piece was made of. Some types of joinery used were mortise-and-tenon joints and dovetail joints. (See illustrations below)
If you have antiques, make sure you avoid any harsh cleaning or common dust product. A barely damp soft cloth works well to wipe off furniture. A couple times of year sparingly use either clear Brie Wax or Goddard’s. There is no need to apply these more frequently since what you want to do it avoid a wax build up.
If you do spill a liquid on an antique to avoid leaving a water mark, wipe it up immediately. And if you refinish the piece to eliminate a water mark, the piece loses its designation as an antique. It now becomes a refinished older piece.
Teal Michel ASID, Interior Design, is a licensed, full-service interior design and remodeling firm, practicing throughout the Carolinas. She has a BS in Fashion Merchandising from Drexel University and and studied interior design at Central Piedmont Community College, where she received an AA in interior design. Teal has received several awards from the Home Builders Association of Charlotte and from the American Society of Interior Design. More information: www.tealmichelasid.com