It's imperative that antique collectors, interior designers, and everyday shoppers understand the difference between authentic antiques and reproduction. Much like genuine antiques, reproductions have been around for centuries, with some even garnering a following dedicated to collecting such pieces of reproduced antique pieces.
In general, people are usually drawn to antique furniture for their craftsmanship and historical value. Knowing how to tell a reproduction from a genuine antique can mean the difference between a great deal and a serious burn in the wallet.
You don't have to be an expert to be able to tell a reproduction from authentic pieces. Here are some tips on how to spot authentic antique furniture:
1. Inconsistent flaws vs. contrived imperfections
In general, authentic antiques have flaws that are inconsistent because of natural wear and tear. Reproductions have imperfections that come off as contrived, with flaws being symmetrical and smooth.
2. Wear and Tear
Authentic antique furniture pieces normally have dents and scratches on them. These signs of wear and tear are most commonly found at areas obtaining the most contact such as the feet of tables or chairs, or the upper part of an armchair as opposed to its underside.
A drawer's runner should also show signs of wear, indicating that it's been opened and closed hundreds of times throughout the years. Furniture that are too perfect or have symmetrical flaws may be reproductions.
Antique French furniture is similar to other types of wooden antique furniture in that wormholes can be expected to be present. Wormholes are caused by worms eating their way into the wood, something that is not uncommon in French antiques from the countryside.
These should be ascending and descending through the surface in an inconsistent way as the worms eat through the wooden furniture piece at random. Wormholes that look flat may just be sliced through to give off the feel of an old piece in a new reproduction or fake antique.
4. The Musty over the Fresh
Genuine antique furniture that survived through the years would normally develop a musty smell that emanates from the wood and patina. Antique reproduction furniture pieces would most likely still have a fresh scent from fresh wood used for its production.
5. Natural vs. Synthetic
One thing that can be helpful while looking for genuine antiques is the presence of synthetic fibers which weren't introduced until the 1920s. If a seller claims that a certain furniture piece came from the Regence period in France, check the upholstery. The stuffing should be made of natural materials such as horsehair rather than synthetic fibers and fabrics.
6. Different types of wood
An authentic antique is usually made of more than one type of wood. This can be attributed to the high expense that carpentry materials demanded in the days of old. This led to furniture-makers incorporating other types of wood for those parts of a furniture that would not be visible to the observer or otherwise unexposed. Reproductions, on the other hand, tend to be made from the same type of wood from bottom to top.
7. Finish with the finish
An antique piece that has retained its original finish is worth more than one that has seen many a refinishing touch. Look for signs of drips at the back or underside of the antique piece, as these are usually telltale indications that the antique has seen the brush of refinishing.
Still confused? Consult the experts. Professionals at Antiques on Old Plank Road can help you with your questions regarding French antique furniture. Knowing how to tell a reproduction from a genuine antique can mean the difference between a great deal and a serious burn in the wallet.
Hope these tips are helpful!