Created on: February 21, 2013 Last Updated: February 22, 2013
Antiques can add a lot to your décor. When looking at antique furniture, however, it is important to be an informed consumer. There are some antique dealers who make claims about the furniture that they are trying to sell that may seem dubious. In some cases they are dubious. It is up to you as the buyer to know what to look for when purchasing antique furniture.
The most important thing that you can do is find a reputable dealer. Check to see if they are members of any antique dealer associations such as NAADAA, or a local state association. Also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any reports of questionable behavior.
If you are buying wooden pieces, look for patina. Patina is the finish that is acquired as an item ages. If the patina has been removed and the item is shiny and new looking, most of the value of the item may be gone. If the price is right and you are not buying this piece as an investment but rather to use and enjoy, then patina may not be a big deal to you. If, however, you eventually plan to resell the piece, you need to know that it is worth what you are paying for it.
Again, in wooden pieces that have drawers, don’t hesitate to pull out the drawers and check the construction. Dovetails are the interlocking joints at the corners of drawers. It they are all perfectly even then you know that you are looking at a machine made dovetail. Once you have looked at a few pieces you will be able to spot hand dovetails easily.
Don’t be afraid to get down on the floor and look at the construction of the bottom and back of any piece that you are considering. The quality of the piece is often evident in the parts that you can’t see. If inferior woods are used in these areas then you are not looking at a high quality antique. It may very well still be an antique, but depending on what you are buying, you may want something that wasn't mass produced.
Look for parts that have been repaired or replaced. Often pulls and handles are replacements. Also look at finials and legs. This is another reason to get down on the floor. Depending on how well the repair was done and the quality of the replacement, the value of the piece may have been seriously compromised.
Ask a lot of questions. Ask where the piece was acquired. Ask the age and style. Ask the type of wood that your antique is constructed from. If you are not satisfied with what you are hearing, walk away. It is the job of an antique dealer to know the answers to your questions, and if you are given the run around or told I don’t know, you may not be getting what you think you are.
It is always buyer beware when it comes to buying antique furniture. If the deal seems too good, chances are it is too good and isn’t true. If you have already purchased something that you now know was a bad deal, learn from your mistake, it has happened to most people at one time or another. It is easy to fall in love with a piece and forget to use your head instead of your heart.
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