An antique can be dated by its marks, the materials it is made of, and the history of its ownership. Follow these tips to identify a genuine antique chair.
There is no denying the excitement of buying an antique piece of furniture and bringing some history into your home.
Without expertise in antiques buying and selling, however, it is easy to be told that you are buying something of greater value than the item is actually worth. A chair can be described as “antique” but not actually come from the time period that the dealer claims.
Tips to Identify the Time Period of an Antique Chair
Contact an antique appraiser and ask them to come along and inspect the piece with you. They will give you an independent estimate of the value of the chair, and what historical period it dates from.
Check the surface, the fittings and the upholstery of the chair for wear and tear, fading, warping and sun damage. An antique appraiser should be able to roughly estimate the age of the chair by the evidence of wear and tear on its surface.
Find out as complete a history of the chair as possible from the owner. The more that they can tell you of its journey through time, the easier it makes your own research. Find out where it was manufactured, where it may have travelled to, how many owners it has had, and how the current owner came upon it.
With this information, you can check the details against an antique catalogue. The place and date of manufacture should coincide, and where the chair was moved to in the intervening time might coincide with trends in its popularity, which an antique catalogue will also detail.
The maker’s mark is a key piece of information about an antique. This is a stamp or emblem, a date, and possibly the initials of the individual who crafted it or the company who manufactured it. This information will tell you what manufacturer the chair was made by when it was made, and even what style it was crafted in. Knowing the maker, the date and style of the manufacturer make it possible to pinpoint exactly when it was made.
Sometimes with antiques, the maker’s stamp or mark has been added fraudulently, claiming that the piece belongs to an earlier period of history than it actually comes from. An antique appraiser will check that the features of the chair — carving, the curvature of the woodwork, the upholstery — do match the date of the apparent maker’s mark.
Check that the style matches the furniture design trends of the period that it is claimed to have come from. There are books available in libraries, or photographs available online, that will show the features of different furniture styles and trends throughout history. Always verify your own estimate with an antique appraiser.