How to Tell the Approximate Age of Antique Furniture

The age of an antique piece of furniture is important to know because it can impact its value. Knowing different signs to look for can help indicate how old a piece is and can help determine the approximate age of an antique item. These indicators can help you understand, identify and accurately estimate the value of your furniture. While assessing the general overall condition of a piece of furniture, it’s only one factor that helps when it comes to estimating age. Many older parts have been repainted, reupholstered, or repaired over time. The features and markings on the table often change with time as well.
If you have inherited or found an antique piece of furniture and want to know its approximate age, this article is for you. The approximate age of antique furniture can be tricky to discern; however, it can also be helpful if you know how to interpret various signs. There is no set rule as to what constitutes antiques and what makes them vintage, but you will find it easier to decipher the old from the new by keeping these following tips in mind when trying to determine the age of your furniture.

Do Some Research

When determining if your piece of furniture is truly an antique worth saving, it’s important to conduct thorough research so you can better estimate its age and provenance. Go online to try and research approximate age by searching for any potentially identifiable information–brand, maker, or any markings or tags that may be found. You can also learn about the history of a piece of furniture by reading about it on websites or blogs. For many older pieces, this information may be hard to locate, so you might have to call in an expert who has knowledge regarding antiques–specifically antique furniture.

Handmade vs. Machine-Made

Most furniture was made by hand until mass-production became popular during the Industrial Revolution, starting in the late 1700s. This means a lot of “newer” antique furniture was mass produced, which may make it easier to identify and date. Older furniture, and higher-end furniture that has been hand-crafted after the Industrial Revolution may be more difficult to date.

Amish furniture, for example, incorporates many traditional hand-made techniques to this day. Because there are no dates on handmade antiques, they are not as easy to date as their machine-made counterparts. If you are unsure of the age of your piece, then you might want to look at it closely and see if there are any marks or signs on it that will help you determine its age.

Examine Details Closely

Mass-produced furniture often has identical features, such as perfectly-matching knobs and handles, so if you notice your furniture has slightly mismatched items, there’s a chance you might be looking at a very old piece of furniture, and it could be from the 18th century (or earlier). With that said, there’s also a chance someone, at some point, replaced a missing knob or handle with a close match, so slight mismatches aren’t a guarantee.
If you notice extremely evenly finished surfaces, there’s a good chance the furniture was mass produced, likely putting it in the 19th century or newer. Many older handmade furniture will likely have some small irregularities and imperfections that make them unique.

Key Takeaway

By knowing how to tell a true antique from a reproduction, you will be able to know when to hold onto a truly valuable piece of furniture and when a piece might not be worth saving. It’s not always an exact science, especially when there’s no identifiable information to research, but telltale signs can help. You may need an expert to help verify the approximate age of a piece if you’re unable to rule out if it’s a newer mass-produced piece or a truly antique piece.

With that said, Amish furniture is made using the same hand-crafting techniques that have been passed down for generations, since the times of pre-mass-production. If you are looking for new furniture, Amish-made options can provide your home with a timeless elegance unmatched by many mass-produced options available. Plus, the furniture is built to last for generations, making it the perfect to pass down for generations–the pieces you acquire today may just become priceless antiques for your family in the future!



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