How do I know how old a piece of furniture is ?
I bought a sideboard at a yardsale a few years ago. Inside the top drawer it has a stamp that reads by drexel trademark. I know it is an older piece because the drawers don’t have any rails and it is made of wood now that pressed wood product. If anyone knows how to get furniture dated please let me know.
You could take it to that show Antique Roadshow or search for their website and perhaps they have links – I am sure they do online or by phone for furniture stores /experts who would know the answer you are looking for. :o)
Here are some tips for buying it and this recommends seeing an antique dealer in your area – an expert:
You can find antique furniture to fit any decor, from country to contemporary. Let the buyer beware: Reproductions abound in the furniture field. Do your homework to make sure you’re purchasing the real deal.
1. Become familiar with terms like cabriole legs that you’re going to come across in advertisements and auction catalogs. (By the way, cabriole legs curve out like a cowboy’s after too long in the saddle.)
2. Study the names (there can be more than one) of the styles you like best. Sellers classify their furniture by style–Louis XV, Queen Anne, Chippendale and so on.
3. Check the antiques section of your local bookstore or library for reference guides. The Internet is another good source for information and photographs of different furniture styles.
4. Visit a local museum. Seeing antique furniture up close will help you identify it in the field. Ask the curator for the names of trustworthy local dealers.
5. Learn to spot features that could affect the value of a piece such as damaged finish or joints, or unauthentic hardware. (See chart, next page.)
6. Get to know the local antique dealers and show them your wish list. They’ll have contacts in other cities and states who can further your search. They will also be able to help you recognize a reproduction.
7. Go to an auction. For top-quality, top-dollar furniture, choose an auction house that guarantees what it sells. If you’re not looking for a museum-quality piece, try a country auction, where you could find a bargain. (See How to Buy at Auction.)
8. Watch for estate sales. If you’re lucky, a family member will be at the sale to tell you about the piece’s provenance or history.
9. Look through antiquing newspapers and magazines for ads, or search the Internet for antique fairs specializing in furniture. (See How to Shop at an Antique Fair or Flea Market.)
10. Curb your desire for perfection in a piece of furniture that might be more than 100 years old. It should show signs of wear in places where you’d expect it, like the bottoms of chair legs and underneath drawer runners.
Definitions vary, especially regarding more recent items, but generally speaking, an antique is at least 100 years old. Everything newer than that falls into the collectible category.
Buy pieces you can use. Few of us have extra rooms we can fill with an untouchable collection of antique furniture.
If you know how to date a piece of furniture, you won’t fall for a reproduction. Read one of the many books on the subject.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHERE TO LOOK IS IT OLD?
Hand-planing The bottom of a chair or drawer. If a seat bottom shows signs of hand-planing, it was probably made before 1810.
Construction Joints The joints between two pieces of wood. 18th-century furniture was often pegged and glued, not nailed. Look for irregularly shaped and spaced dovetails (notches cut in wood so pieces fit together like puzzle pieces). Until the last half of the 19th century, these were cut by hand and shouldn’t be perfectly spaced or formed.
Size of Boards Tabletops and backs of dressers, bureaus. These should be built with one solid piece or different pieces of various widths if the piece is truly old. Perfectly sized and spaced boards indicate new construction.
Saw Marks On the backs of chests and under tables. Straight saw marks indicate the piece was made before the mid-18th century. Wavy lines (cut with a band saw) show it was made in the mid-18th to 19th century. Look for circular saw patterns in furniture made after that.
Secondary Wood Inside drawers and on dresser backs. The builders of old furniture used less-expensive wood in places where it wouldn’t show. No secondary wood is a sure sign of new construction,and any plywood is a dead giveaway.
Original Paint Finish Cracks or dents in painted furniture. If the paint finish is original, exposed wood should appear in any cracks and gouges. If you spy paint down in the cracks and crevices, then it’s been painted since the ding occurred.
Antique Glass Mirrors. Antique glass is very thin. Test by placing a coin on edge against the mirror. If the reflection is very close to the coin itself, almost touching it, the glass is old.
Wormholes On the surface of any wood piece. Stick a pin in the hole. If the pin goes straight through, the hole is manufactured. True wormholes are winding paths.
What to look for:
Wear and tear
Wood Mount Stamp Sets to Clear Mount Conversion
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