Perfect Antiques

One of our dealers, Ginger Rodriguez, is our guest blogger this week. She tells us about using reproductions v. the real thing and how to spot the difference. Enjoy!

I'm totally fine with reproduction furniture and I purchase them all the time for my spaces... but actual antiques are a whole different thing. Sometimes there's no substitute for an item that has a history...not to mention the level of hand-craftsmanship which often is just awe-inspiring.
And of course, there's the price! When you pay for an authentic antique, it had darn-well better BE an authentic antique!
But how do you really know?
Here are some great tips to help you in you determine the Fab from the Fake.

Perfectly Imperfect: As we grow and live through our life story, along with the good things, also come a few scars... and it's the same with antiques. I think a person, or an item - without any mars or irregularities... just lacks character! (who knew antiquing would get so philosophical!) Look for wear, flaws, and color variations. Reproductions often have them too, but they are contrived and painted on... close examination will expose the bluff.

Not too Matchy-Matchy: In the past, things were done more frugally. The most desirable wood species were treasured and usually carpenters did not use them where it didn't matter. Examine the piece carefully and see if the parts that show - are a different wood from the parts that do not show.

Feeling Stuffed: Foam rubber, nylon batting and other synthetic materials were introduced only around the 1920's and can be a dead giveaway. Truly old items will be stuffed with horsehair, hay, cotton, wool or other interesting natural fibers.

Nobody's Perfect: and this includes wood workers. If the decorative carving is too perfect, then it was probably done by machines and not the old fashioned way, by hand.

Join In: With a few minutes of study, you can become knowledgeable on the basics of ... Joinery! That is how wooden items are put together. Where you see Dovetails, doweling, mortise and tenon techniques and other detailed methods... that's a good indication of age. Also remember, Phillips head screws and the presence of fiberboard say "modern" !
Today, manufacturers often rely a lot on gluing. Antiques will usually have finely-crafted parts where the strength comes mostly from craftsmanship creating a joint so tight that glue was used less, or not at all.

The Smell can Tell: If I blind-folded you and put you in an old book store, you could tell it... a little musty, a little dusty, but in a good way. Same with antiques. If you can get you nose into a drawer or close to upholstery, you will often be able to determine real from repro. The scent of varnish, paint or polyurethane probably means new.
You are now well-armed with my Fab or Fake Facts......and are hereby advised to

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