Collecting Antique Furniture
crafting of solid, hand carved furniture is a dying art. Antique
furniture's popularity is on an upward curve simply because it's an
expression of a person’s character, as well as a decorative object,
and an item of investment.
If you’re a beginning collector
interested in antique furniture, the old saying holds true: "Buy
what you like and can live with, buy the very best you can afford, buy
from reputable dealers with experience, and if you do all these things
your investment will continue to appreciate."
Antique furniture covers a wide range of
types, designs, historical periods and styles--American, English,
Continental (German and French) and Oriental. All have their following,
and within each of these classifications are sub-classifications
indicating both style and historical period. Practically, antique
furniture can be considered as English, European, American and Chinese.
Wood type-mahogany, walnut, oak and pin
predominate--significantly affects value in antique furniture. The type
of furniture, practicality, hardware and construction details are also
important in determining value as is the originality of all the
composite parts. Many pieces of antique furniture have replacement
panels or have had hardware added due to breakage. This lowers the value
of a piece considerably. Also, many owners of antique furniture use
lemon oil under the misguided belief that it helps preserve the wood and
therefore enhances its value. This can’t be farther from the truth.
All lemon oil does is dry out the wood, darken the patina, and decrease
a piece’s value. The only polish that should be used is pure beeswax.
Before purchasing a piece of antique furniture, rub it to see if an oily
film is left on your hand.
Begin by purchasing small pieces,
gradually building up to larger more expensive–and thus more valuable–pieces
as you expand your collection. Most older (prior to 1830) pieces should
be purchased with their original patina. However, it’s acceptable to
buy Victorian and later pieces with their finishes cleaned or restored.
Some furniture styles, like Biedermeier from Austria, actually increase
in value once they are restored.
But most antique furniture collectors don’t
buy on investment potential alone. Most pieces can still be used, so
buying a piece of furniture that will not only fit into your decor but
will have some use adds to its enjoyment. And while a few collectors
purchase furniture from a particular period, most mix styles and periods
based on their personal interest. To help varied pieces fit better
together in the same room, you should try to use similar wood tones.
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