Photo gallery of antique furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The matter of actual value of antique furniture is an important consideration in ways that are sometimes overlooked. In general, prices are now at least twice as high as they were ten years ago. For that reason alone it behooves the buyer to have a clear idea not only of what he wants to buy, but of how much he ought to pay for it. It is a satisfaction to realize that, in spite of rising prices, wisely chosen antique furniture still offers a good investment to the collector who can spend a few hundred dollars or a few thousand, and that his outlay, small or large, is assured a return in actual value to add to the fascination of collecting and the joy of possession.
FURNITURE PICTURES GALLERY
For the collector who buys antique furniture to furnish his home there are at least three essentials to be met by each article purchased; good material, good design, and good workmanship. The collector who is looking for inexpensive specimens naturally expects to find them in such woods as beech, elm or oak. The most excellent and suitable antique furniture is of walnut and mahogany, or even satinwood.
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Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton are the most renowned of 18th century furniture making. It is said that their chief importance lied in the fact that they published books of furniture designs which not only superbly expressed the popular taste but refined on it. They were less originators than designer publicists. High end auction houses such as Sothebys, Christies and Bonhams are occasionally a source for the exceptional and expensive specimens of Chippendale, Hepplewhite, or Sheraton. Everyone knows that these last are rare, and should recognize that they are so skilfully copied that only an expert can buy them safely.
Before taking up the repair of antique furniture, it might be well to explain what constitutes an original antique. It is, in a general way, anything at least 100 years old and ninety percent original. The government recognizes as antique, and allows to enter the country free of duty, anything shipped from abroad that can be proved to the satisfaction of the custom officials to be more than 100 years old.
Collectors of antique furniture who are particular in regard to their purchases are very careful to buy nothing that is more than ten percent restored; this rule applies to American antique furniture as well as foreign. The original size and shape must be also considered. One may have, for example, an antique corner cupboard or a secretary with a straight molding at the top and plain feet under it and replace the straight molding with a broken arch top, and the plain feet with more elaborate ones. The piece in its original form may have been centuries old, and probably the changes and replacements made do not affect more than two or three percent of the whole. But the design has been changed, so in its new form the age dates from the time the changes were made, and to all intent and purposes it is a secondhand piece of furniture.
Anything in which the design or size has been changed is not an antique, not even 100 years or more after the changes are made, for it can never again be original. To substitute wood panels for glass, or glass for wood; drawer handles for knobs, or knobs for handles; to change the number of panes of glass in a door, say from eight or ten to thirteen – any of these slight changes destroy its ever becoming valuable as antique furniture.