An Antique Dealer's Advice
Below you will find all you need to know when considering buying Antique Furniture. With helpful advice from one of our Antique Dealers and some handy tips from our resident Interior Designer.
Ten considerations when buying antique furniture
Our expert antique dealer, Frank Wilson of Wilsons Antiques, Worthing, has the following tips for buying antique furniture online; he suggests adhering to the ten considerations below:
- He advocates purchasing antique furniture based upon the QUALITY of the item; by buying the best you can possibly afford, it will enable you to enjoy it for many years to come. The higher the quality of the item you purchase the more longevity there tends to be in the piece, in turn this saves you money as you do not have to re-purchase such items in the near future.
- The CONDITION of the item is imperative. Buy antique pieces in good condition, and ask for a condition report detailing any damage, repairs, and restoration. This way you are able to determine the authenticity of the item and guarantee it is not a replica, or whether it has not been restored to the a high standard.
- When purchasing antique furniture it is better to BUY FROM a respected, established antiques dealer. It is preferable that they are members of the national antique trade associations LAPADA or BADA. Their knowledge can help inform your choice and will assist in your decision making when deciding upon the appropriate piece of antique furniture for your home.
- Obtain a RECEIPT. Getting a proper receipt from the dealer with his name, address and contact details is evidence of the purchase and means the item of furniture is able to be traced back to the dealer you purchased the item off.
- The DESCRIPTION of the item of furniture should state the circa age, period style, timber, condition of the piece, any restoration that has been undertaken, and the provenance of the piece. A description should provide you with all the available information for the item.
- PHOTOGRAPHS of the item of furniture can be digitally enhanced so ask for extra pictures, it is better to check everything thoroughly before buying the piece, you can specify what angles you want to see or if there are any details on the item you wish to take a closer look at.
- Enquire into the SIZE of the furniture, measure the space you wish the item to live. Check the size of the item of furniture fits into your room, it is a good idea to cut a template to place on your floor, so you can visualise the impact the item will have in the space.
- Wherever possible try and SEE THE ANTIQUE, it is the best way to check the condition and colour of the piece. Photographs can sometimes be misleading.
- Take CARE of your antique furniture. Use a good furniture wax with beeswax. Do not use spays with silicon as it spoils the original finish. It is important to preserve the original patina.
- When it comes to INVESTMENT do not solely buy antiques for investments, buy them for the pleasure they will also give you and the use you will get from them. Be aware if you sell your antique by auction you will receive 50 – 70% of the price the buyer pays, (that is the sellers premium + the buyers premium and vat).
An Interior Designers View
Five ways to fit antique furniture into your home
It is important to consider how an antique piece of furniture will fit within the home, how is it possible to incorporate antique furniture into your space without appearing to dated though? It is question regularly posed to loveantiques.com interior designer Lizzie Greenaway; she suggests five pointers that will help you purchase the most suitable, stylish item of furniture for your needs.
- It is important to consider the design you wish to achieve. She suggests that it is useful to determine what you desire the overall space to convey; just placing antique furniture in the room may appear old-fashioned and cluttered. A piece of antique furniture should complement a space; if you are hoping to achieve a contemporary look or something more traditional you need to determine this first. In a contemporary styled room a beautiful chaise longue set against a window alone may look attractive, whereas in a classical, traditional living room an antique chesterfield armchair would look seamlessly in keeping.
- Antique furniture should be practical and useful. If you are looking to buy an antique dining table, use it. Using antique furniture breathes new life into the piece and refreshes the room in which the piece resides. Adding four modern-looking chairs to an antique table will also highlight the exquisite craftsmanship that went into its making.
- Using one style solely in a room can appear monotonous, a room can appear contrived and lacking in character, an antique piece of furniture can impact a space like this positively, an element of discord can actually result in visually harmonizing a room.
- Creating a backdrop for the piece of antique furniture will help it fit into a room, a colour block wall or a mirror placed behind the item can help to emphasis its beauty.
- It is important to let your home have its own narrative through the connection to the antique furniture, create a flow and symmetry by linking antique furniture to the rest of the décor through accessories. For example, placing matching lamps in the same room, one upon an antique dresser and the other on a modern bedside table can help to create subtle links.
Extra considerations when purchasing antique furniture:
Before you scour antique fairs, the website, auctions or flea markets have an idea of what piece of antique furniture you have in mind, it is extremely useful to have the required measurements to hand if there is only one space the piece is to fit.
On a practical note if you attending an antique fayre take a tape measure and a camera, if you decide not to purchase immediately you can see how it looks later on and then contact the dealer, should it still be available. Most dealers now sell online so it may be possible to buy the item off the Internet.
Most antique furniture will have signs of wear, there may be slight damage and more often than not there are imperfections, expect some dis-colouration around nails, screws and handles. Wear will often also display on handles, arms and legs.
Original patina will tend to have a few scratches and marks, if there doesn’t appear to be any on the furniture it may mean that the piece has been stripped back, therefore losing its original patina. Painted antique furniture gained in popularity from the middle of the 1700’s onwards, the item may have been repainted to reflect the fashion throughout the periods, fake antique painting will often have an ‘overused’ distressed look. The paintwork if original will have layers of dirt between each layer of paint.
Antique furniture is known for its durability, buying antique pieces is very green, it requires no manufacturing, and means that more furniture does not end up in landfill. Antique and vintage furniture are very eco-friendly, when it comes to furnishing ones home, there is no additional energy needed in its production, by purchasing antique items you are re-using, recycling and rejuvenating many beautiful items.
Not only are antique items of furniture full of character and history, they are also valuable investment pieces in some cases. They tend to retain value far more so than machine made, newer furniture, even after use they still remain of worth financially.
There are certain characteristics that mean an antique is more valuable, the following considerations can affect the worth of each piece. How rare an item of furniture is will determine the value, the rarity of a piece is based upon the number of items that were produced, or whether only a small number of these pieces still remain.
If the type of antique is unusual or of limited edition, or the style of the item is unusual in comparison to the maker or designer’s usual trademark. Also if the size or the shape of the piece of furniture is different or hard to reproduce it will affect the rarity of the item. The value will also be impacted by the aesthetics of the piece, how desirable the antique is, whether or not they are authentic and the condition of the antique itself. The cost of the antique will also largely be dependent on the manufacturer.
It is important to consider the safe and secure delivery of your piece of antique furniture, the item is often precious and sometimes delicate and it is essential it is not damaged in transit. It is also worth purchasing insurance for your item before it is in the delivery process in case of accidents. Always use a reputable and secure courier service to ensure the safe transportation of your furniture.
When it comes to looking after antique furniture protection and preservation is key, it is essential so you can ensure you are able to pass the antique piece of furniture onto the future generations or sell it in the best condition possible. Looking after the item will guarantee that it does not depreciate in value.
When preserving your piece of furniture the condition of the patina should be protected at all costs, use wax with high quality beeswax, waxing overnight nourishes the wood, you can then polish in the morning; avoid spray polishes. Generally an item should be polished every three months, over-waxing your furniture can collect dust and make the wood appear dull.
There is an extensive array of antique furniture pieces to purchase, from Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian, Queen Anne, and Louis XVII to Art Nouveau, Gothic and Vintage pieces. Personal taste and what function you require the piece of furniture for will largely determine your choices. When purchasing your item of antique furniture online using the above information in conjunction with your desires will help you make the best decision possible.
First Image: Adobe Stock © victor zastol'skiy #28663365
All other images taken from LoveAntiques stock