Buying antique furniture can be a little like buying a house. Buy it cheaply, restore it to its former glory and perhaps sell it on for a good profit. How many Victorian antique pine chests of drawers painted white in the 1960s have been bought for a few pounds at auction, stripped of their white sixties minimalist look and then waxed back to honeyed perfection and sold on for a few hundred pounds.
However just going out, buying a piece of antique furniture, stripping it down and rewaxing may work on some less valuable pieces, but restoring antiques should be approached with some caution. The term ‘refinishing’ means to enhance existing patinas rather than remove them and some questions should be asked about the history of the piece bought. For example, was the antique desk purchased made by a notable craftsman such as Robert Gillow of Lancaster? If it was it would be stamped, so look for any marks or labels on the piece. If in doubt, perhaps the piece should just be given a good brush up rather than a total overhaul and if not sure about what do, go and ask an expert.
Perhaps it is a statement about the state of the country’s economy that BBC2 is to broadcast a new series on revamping antique furniture. There is to be six 30 minute episodes called Cracking Antiques. The series will provide hints on, buying antiques, rejuvenating them, buying at fairs, auctions and online generally so there should be plenty of help on hand for any budding restorers.
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