Shopping for Antiques? Are You Sure They Are Genuine?

If you’re in the market for antiques, do you know how to spot a fake? If you’ve ever been fooled, don’t feel too bad. Even experts make those mistakes at times. The key, says on antiques expert, is to examine, examine, examine. Reputable dealers understand the need for this and will not object. If the would-be seller objects, you might want to look elsewhere. It’s a good idea for beginners to visit historic museums and get a feel for the peculiarities of real antiques.

Here are some basic tips to help you avoid being fooled:

If you are shopping at an antique fair and notice an abundance of one item, such as a similar statue at every booth, that’s an indication that the items are modern copies, not antiques.

Is the item you’re looking at amazingly cheap for what it is supposed to be? You do hear stories about people who don’t know what they’ve got and sell masterpieces for practically nothing. This does happen, but more often than not, the old adage applies. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If the item is furniture, stand back and take and overall look at it. Are the legs in the same style as the tabletop, or do they have a different look? Sometimes parts of different pieces of furniture are combined into one piece.

If the piece is dirty all over, why? You may find grime in hard to access places, like cabinet corners. But dirt all over is suspicious. Could the owner be hoping to make the piece look older than it is?
What about wear and tear? Has the furniture worn where you might expect, like on the arms of a chair? If the wear is in places that normally wouldn’t be harshly used over time, you may want to ask questions.

Does the piece have holes that might have been made by woodworm? Or, were the holes manmade to look like woodworm? Experts tell us that examining the holes with a magnifying glass is the way to tell. Manmade holes will likely have little cracks extending out from them, whereas woodworm holes would not.

Is the piece varnished or painted in places that are not normally seen, like the underside of a table? If something is painted, stained, or varnished for no obvious practical reason, it could be a sign of bad faith dealing.

Take a look at joints that are pegged. Over time as the wood shrinks, the pegs should stand out. If the item is a modern knockoff, the pegs may still be flush with the surface.

Years ago, when lumber was less scarce, many furniture items such as tabletops and chest tops were made with large boards. Often a single board could be as wide as 18 or even 30 inches, mostly knot-free. Modern furniture is generally made from smaller boards glued and stained to look like larger boards.

Old furniture was planed by hand, so it tends to be less smooth than furniture planed by modern machines. If you run your hands over the surface, you should be able to feel the difference between hand-planed and machine-planed pieces.

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