Antiques restoration New York
The head of an animal, often a lion or leopard, was first seen in Roman furniture and was later reintroduced during the by neoclassical period. The use of classical design elements helped to develop the ‘English Empire’ element present in Regency furniture. This Regency Chair we recently restored resurrecting some of the Regency decorative elements, refinishing and recarvine portions as well.
This intricate octagonal side table was a complete restoration project. It arrived in our studio in a box broken apart into many pieces. The intensive labor involved in recreating the bone and ebony inlay in this table adds to its value and rarity. There are also other designs in the same style as this such as the Indian ivory, bone and ebony inlaid hardwood table that is featured at Christie’s
This is a mid 18th century Georgian mahogany mirror with a central rectangular beveled plate, shaped corners and mahogany borders. Some variations have gold or brass ornamentation around the edges.
A client brought this mirror in disrepair and we recarved and fixed the shape of the edges. Often with pieces that are old and made out of wood, the edges will chip and soften usually need to be replaced or recarved in order to restore the integrity of the shape of the design.
In part I and part II of steps to identify if the furniture you are looking at is truly an antique we outline some basic visual cues that can help you in determining the age. It’s essential to find out as much history as you can about the piece of furniture especially who the manufacturer was and the date of its construction. A reputable dealer should be able to provide these free of charge. If it’s origin seems to be a “mystery” and you are not yet ready to pay for an appraisal take a digital photo and head to the library. Many of the top manufacturers kept detailed product information in antique catalogs and if you can find out the date and model you might be able to compare it with similar pieces for sale on the web.
Here are another three ways you may be able to verify authenticity:
1) If there are inlaid designs on the wood the shapes tend to be less exact and often there are gaps in the wood (machine made inlay often has very smooth edges which fit together perfectly and no gaps in the wood)
2) If the chair has armrests or feet check to see if there is natural looking wear. Often repeated hand or arm touching of the armrests will leave an irregular looking wear to the stain. Examine these closely as it’s possible to mimick this wear with a machine
3) Check the feet and see how their worn, often an old piece will have dents and the wood will be severely receded in the foot area. If the feet seem to be in tip top shape that’s a very telling sign that it’s a reproduction or was restored in a way which may reduce it’s value.
The age of antiques is a big factor in determining the value of a piece of furniture, some dealers consider pieces older than 60 years antiques while others consider 100 or more years old to be. Furniture was not made by machine until the early 1860s, so a key factor in addition to determining the age is whether or not the piece of furniture was made by a machine. Here are five more ways to distinguish whether or not the furniture you are considering is an antique:
1) What kind of wood was used and were multiple types of wood used, if the bottoms of the drawers are a different type of wood it’s probably an antique
2) For Marble pieces check the back edge to see whether or not it’s jagged, if it’s smooth it’s probably not an antique because the instruments used for smoothing marble are more recent.
3) Check for signs of aging on the edges of the arms and bottom of the feet, it’s difficult to reproduce natural looking wear and aging.
4) If the piece is upholstered with hay or horsehair, it’s probably an antique
5)Other signs of age include cracking, warping and fading, ragged edges (old fashioned handsaw)
If the item is an antique reproduction by a master craftsman it may still be very valuable but some high end dealer may not value it as highly. Some collectors prefer specific styles and eras, or have a preference for a certain maker of the furniture. Either way if it as an authentic antique it’s value is usually based on what condition the item is in, how rare it is and if the history associated with it.
There are many stores in New York City, on 1st dibs and around the world selling antiques. Often, upon closer inspection, many of these expensive and sought after items are not antiques at all. We’ve come across a number of instances where clients brought us an antique and they want an additional piece created. And were disappointed to find out that the credenza they paid $55,000 for was actually created in the 40s and there are plenty of other versions of it out there. The historical and unique component associated with antiques are what give them value. Five basic ways you can check to see whether or not they are in fact antiques are:
1) Thickness of veneer (if it’s very thin veneer chances are it’s not an antique)
2) The color of the glue (if it’s black it’s probably an antique)
3) The shape of the nailheads (if they are square it’s an antique)
4) The type of joints (Dovetail joints were used for high quality antiques)
5) Check the saw marks on the underside (circular saw built marks after 1850, straight saw marks before 1850)
If you are unsure and really love the piece of furniture it is completely worth hiring a professional antique appraiser to take a look at it. A good appraiser will run you between $200-$400 which is a drop in the bucket for a piece of furniture costing $100k.