Dating furniture styles

A lacquer or varnish finish is a sure sign of later manufacture.

Testing a finish isn’t always possible in a dealer’s showroom, but if you can manage it, identify the finish before you buy.

If the piece has drawers, remove a drawer and look carefully where the front and back of the drawer are fastened to the sides of the drawer.

If a joint was dovetailed by hand, it has only a few dovetails, and they are not exactly even; if it has closely spaced, precisely cut dovetails, it was machine-cut.

American furniture styles have seen a significant number of style periods since the early Colonial era, with each period being to some degree influenced by the pieces being built in Europe (generally England and France).Consider practical matters Carefully: Always check the size and weight of any piece of antique furniture that interests you. To reduce these costs, search in local antique dealers and check other sellers who will provide a complete wrap and ship service.The first aspect is the joinery; machine-cut furniture was not produced until about 1860.Exact symmetry is another sign that the piece was machine-made.On handmade furniture, rungs, slats, spindles, rockers, and other small-diameter components are not uniform.

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