High Point Furniture Direct

High Point Furniture Direct

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Antique Furniture Buying Tips

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How to Judge Quality When Buying Antiques

Buying antiques is a wonderful pastime, from the thrill of the hunt to the pride you feel seeing the piece in your home. But when you're buying antiques, how do you know if the piece is any good, or if it's worth the asking price?

First of all, determine if it’s a true antique—that is, a piece that’s at least 100 years old (anything else is “vintage” or a “collectible”). Then, if you love the item and the pleasure you would derive from it is proportional to the cost, you should get it.

However, if the piece is expensive and you are concerned about whether it’s worth the asking price, there are certain tests you can conduct when buying antiques to help determine a piece's quality.

Get a Good Look

Move the piece away from walls and other items so you can get a good look at all sides, including the bottom. Study the piece under bright light or ask to take it outside if the weather is not inclement. If the dealer is offended, “walk the other way.”

Is It Solid?

Test the solidity of the piece. Sit on a chair, then push your weight forward and back; if the chair wobbles and moves with you, it’s loose and needs to be reglued. Check for wobbling on a table or bureau by placing your hand on a corner and shaking the piece.

Does It Look Old?

Examine the finish for natural signs of wear. Authentic pieces will have dirt in crevices or in places that are hard to clean, and wear around knobs and on drawers caused by friction. The absence of such wear may indicate that the piece is not old, or that it has been refinished. The latter is not necessarily bad if it’s been done well, but it will lower the piece’s value in most instances. Look inside and underneath the piece for dribbles of stain that indicate a sloppy refinishing job.

Check the Finish

The exterior of the piece should be a uniform color, except for variations that would naturally occur through exposure to the elements and use. Surface blemishes and scars are acceptable, but burn marks can’t be taken out or painted over without cutting out that section of wood, so avoid buying antiques with a burn unless you can live with it. A piece of furniture costing more than $300 shouldn’t have any visible nails; their presence may be signs of a sloppy repair job.

Is Anything Missing?

If the furniture has a veneer, look for broken or missing pieces, or sections that are a different color—evidence the veneer has been poorly patched. If there’s a decorative inlay or applied carving, make sure no pieces are missing.

Antique Furniture Dealers

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One Way Furniture
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Home Living
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