When you antique furniture shop, you’ll find wonderful unique pieces that will work with any style and interior design…from rustic to country to sleek modern/contemporary. However, you need to be careful as there are a great many fakes and reproductions in the marketplace. The best way to avoid being tempted to buy a fake or reproduction is to do some research first…
Tip#1 Research and become familiar with style/period names of those you like best. Sellers categorize furniture mostly by style ie: Victorian, Queen Anne, Chippendale, Louis XVI, etc…
Tip#2 Visit the antiques department in bookstores or check the library for books and reference material on your chosen style/period. The Internet is also a great source for information and pictures of different furniture styles.
Tip#2 Learn what the various terms mean, like bow front, broken pediment, reeded leg, etc. You’ll most likely run into these terms in antique listings, sales tags, ads and auction catalogs.
Tip#3 Study the names (there can sometimes be more than one, depending on the country) of the styles you like best. Sellers will usually classify their offerings by style – Louis XV, Queen Anne, Chippendale, and so on.
Tip#4 Make visits to museums and historic homes…actually seeing genuine antique pieces in person will greatly help you to identify authentic pieces when you come across them in the marketplace.
Tip#5 Learn to recognize any feature that could affect a piece’s value or authenticity such as damage to the surface or structure, or replaced hardware.
Tip#6 Become acquainted with antique dealers and visit an antique furniture shop to discuss your particular needs and interests. If they don’t have what you’re looking for at the time, keep in mind that they have sources and associates in other areas of the country and world who can assist in finding the right piece for you. They will also help you recognize a real antique vs a fake.
Tip#7 Visit auctions, and to be assured of the best quality, select an auction house that will guarantee what it sells. Country auctions are a great option if you’re not looking for museum quality pieces. And, who knows… you could even find a real bargain, at that!
Tip#8 Check the newspaper and/or the internet for estate sales. You may find a family member at the sale who can tell you something about the piece’s history.
Tip#9 Look through antique publications for ads, or search on the Internet for antique furniture shows and flea markets that specialize in furniture.
Tip#10 Any desire you may have for perfection, in a piece of furniture that might be more than 100 years old, needs to be “checked at the door”. It is normal, and appropriate, for genuine antique pieces to show signs of age with wear in expected places ie: chair arms, table tops, bottoms of chair legs and underneath drawer runners.
Whenever you antique furniture shop, be aware that definitions can vary. However, it’s accepted in the industry that, to be considered antique, a piece must be at least 100 years old. Everything more recent would be considered vintage or modern. And, always buy pieces you will use…very few of us have rooms in our home that we can fill with an “untouchable” collection of antique pieces that can only be looked at and not used.