Antique-looking furniture has become rather popular; unfortunately, there are not enough antique items to accommodate the demand. What has resulted because of this? Cheap, unauthentic, antique knock-offs that look authentic but are really twenty-first century born. So, with so many antique lookalikes, how can you be sure if a piece really is, well, antique? Here are some ways to develop an antique eye.
Definition – First of all, you need to understand what an antique is. Contrary to popular belief, an antique is not classified by anything “old.” In order for a piece to be authentically antique it must be at least 100 years old. Many people stretch this rule to include items that are only 50 years old; however, the century rule still stands. If you know a piece does not date back at least one century, it’s not antique.
Construction – If the date of your piece is elusive, there are other ways to determine its authenticity. Take a look at the construction. Pieces made at least 100 years ago were often built better than they are today. Since antique pieces were handcrafted with care, most will have strong dovetailed joinery. While they may wobble a little, they will still hold up. If you find an old, antique-looking piece that is poorly built, chances are it’s not authentic. Another way to tell if your piece is antique is to be aware of the details, patterns, and hardware. Iron and brass hardware is common on antiques, whereas plastic and aluminum are sure signs that the piece was built in the twenty-first century.
When deciding if that “antique” piece you stumbled across at the flea market really is authentic, keep the previous in mind. If you know how to recognize an authentic piece, you are less likely to pay a high price for a knock-off, and you have a better chance of finding the value in an old piece of furniture at a yard sale.