Collecting antique furniture is like setting out on a voyage of discovery. Each piece comes with its own history or provenance, and patinas – where people have come into direct contact with pieces over many years.
There are two main aspects to collecting antique furniture. One of course is that you like to have artefacts around the house that can retell our social history, but also there is the financial aspect where, due to their rareness, they will appreciate in value. However, many people are daunted about where to begin because expensive mistakes can be made.
Being able to recognise a Chippendale antique chair for example is a good place to start, but chairs designed by Thomas Chippendale have been revived many times so finding a period piece from his workshop will be difficult, and how would you be able to distinguish between a handmade original and a machine made revival?
Other pitfalls include buying pieces that have been restored or remodelled in some way. The value in an antique is in its authenticity where it should, as far as possible, be in its original state. Many pieces have been cut down, had new feet added, new handles fitted, been stripped of their original patinas and generally messed around with.
Deciding what is the correct price to pay for an antique in a fluctuating market is also quite an imprecise science at present where fashion, provenance and named designers can buck the trend and certain pieces can unexpectedly fetch high prices at auction. However they may also become unfashionable a few years down the line and lose value.
A good place to start is to get some expert advice. So, when beginning your search for antique tables in Lancashire for example, seek the advice of a reputable antique dealer.
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