Antique furniture is currently seeing a great upsurge of interest and many people are hunting for beautiful antiques to display in their home, so this means that the fakers are producing as much reproduction furniture as possible.
Before you buy, I really recommend that you do a short course to learn some antique hunting secrets and how to tell if you have an antique. Otherwise, you could waste a lot of money on something that was made this year!
To get you started, here are my professional tips on checking whether a piece is ancient or modern.
Colour and odour
One obvious sign that a piece of wooden furniture is a fake is a very even colour, with smooth rounded corners and modern screws. Look out for black patches caused by ancient watermarks on the top of a table or chest of drawers, because this can indicate that a previous owner decorated it with a plant.
One thing that is very hard to disguise is the smell of newly cut wood. Take a good sniff of the furniture because there is a great difference in the smell of an antique and a fake.
Remember that a true antique was made more than a hundred years ago, so look for imperfections and signs of age. For instance, a new piece will have a flat, smooth surface on top, whereas an antique could have aging like boards that are warped and coming away from the seams.
In particular, you should check the corners for nicks and other damage caused by moving house a couple of times in the past. If you see wormholes, check them closely to be sure they have not been done with an electric drill.
Look for imperfections because an antique will have handles that are slightly different from each other. In addition, screw heads should have a single slot in a really old piece of furniture.
Square nails and wormholes are often found in genuine antiques, but sometimes the maker has used genuine, antique nails and old wood to cobble together a fake, so look very carefully.
To check if a real antique has been refinished, turn the piece upside down and look for the tell-tale drips of colour or varnish. This is important because a refinished antique is worth far less than an antique in its original state.
If possible, have a professional appraise the item, but only pay the flat fee for one item at a time. Obviously, if you agree to pay a percentage of the antique’s appraised value, the appraiser may give you an inflated price to increase his percentage.
If you can find a short course on antiques, I highly recommend that you spend a little time finding out some of the many antique hunting secrets that will save you losing money on a fake and make your hobby so much more enjoyable!