Ask any antique lover about his or her favorite part of collecting, and you’ll probably hear many of them enthusiastically mention “the hunt!” Of course, it is exhilarating to know that after hours or days of searching in shops and flea markets for something vintage, you happen upon an authentic piece of furniture or décor from the Victorian Era, for instance.
But how can anyone be so sure about the authenticity of antique pieces? If you’re new to antique collecting, here are several ways to make sure you won’t get fooled into purchasing a reproduction:
Look for dovetailing
As evidently present in most pieces of Authentic Provence, dovetailing is a definite sign of quality woodwork craftsmanship. In the past, furniture makers employed dovetailing, instead of nails and screws, to hold together different parts of furniture. So, look for dovetails or triangular wood joints on the sides of drawers, cabinets, and other antique pieces you’re eyeing. Be wary of perfectly-shaped dovetails, as they are probably cut by a machine — therefore, these are likely a reproduction.
Just like perfectly-shaped dovetails, symmetry in a furniture piece is a sure sign you should move on with your search. After all, machine-cut furniture pieces weren’t available until after the mid-1800s. Remember, handmade furniture doesn’t have uniform construction. So, always seek irregularities in every part of an antique piece.
Check the wood types
Years ago, craftsmen rarely used a single type of wood when making furniture. They didn’t use valuable wood for spots that no one would see it, such as the bottoms of drawers and chairs. When it comes to antique furniture, spotting multiple types of wood used in one piece is always a good thing.
Above all, look for labels or stamps that can give you an idea of or tell you about the origins of the piece; such as, where and when it was made. But, then again, many reproduced antiques also bear labels, so look for a stamp or label with definite signs of aging. Plus, when in doubt, you can always seek the help of a professional to know whether your latest find is authentic or not.