It is always a thrill when you venture into a thrift store or go along to a garage sale and find an item that you think is a genuine antique. This is especially the case if you are a collector and the piece you find is the missing one to complete your collection.
Still, here’s the big question: how do you know if it is a real antique or a forgery? There are more than a few replicas of antique goods floating around, so how do you distinguish the real from the fake? If you are new to antiquing, here are some basic tips to help you identify genuine antiques.
Imperfections and Signs of Age
An antique is defined as a piece of furniture or clothing that is over 100 years old, which means you are looking for pieces that date back to 1922 at the latest when you go antique hunting. With this information, is it easy to spot a fake antique? The answer is yes. Ideally, you need to be looking for the signs of age that come with a piece of furniture that is over a century old.
For instance, wood warps and shrinks, leading to chairs looking misshapen – a clear sign of old age. On the other hand, a screw in a chair that looks old and distorted is also a good sign because screws were not mass-produced until 1880. However, if you are buying from an antique dealer, be aware that in some cases, they may age certain items to make them look more authentic.
This point is mainly about researching the material the item in question is made from. If you find a chair that is claimed to date back to the Victorian era, ask the owner what materials and fabrics it contains, and then do your research.
For example, if the chair has a pillow attached to it, there will be no trace of polyester if it truly does date back to the aforementioned era, as this material wasn’t used in furniture and clothing until the late 1920s. There should also be no plywood or particle board if you are looking at genuine antique wooden furniture.
Screws and Nails
As mentioned earlier, the staple in most furniture – screws – was handmade until 1880. They were also much shorter than nails are today, so be aware of screws that look old but are as long as the ones that come with IKEA furniture! It is also interesting that until 1900, nails were also square, not round, meaning these staples of furniture can be giveaways of the age of the piece.
The world is full of con artists who will tell you that a piece is authentic without giving you any actual proof. So, if you are new to the world of antiquing, you should look online for reputable dealers.
Trustworthy dealers are not hard to find; some may have a store, and others may have a website. Ideally, you will want to meet them in person and ask them questions to test their knowledge of the piece you want to buy.
When it comes to looking for antiques, always start with purchasing smaller, less valuable items, just in case you are uncertain about their origin. Build your knowledge up over time and, if possible, join online forums that can help you develop the skills needed to identify real antiques. Who knows? You may find a vase worth millions of dollars!
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