Learning to Date Antique Chairs

Although age tends not to be the main reason why we may choose to purchase different antique or vintage chairs, having a sense of how old they are can help us appreciate them even more. It allows us to understand why the shape and material are the way they are and can help us spot an early original from a later copy. Chair dating it turns out is a great way to hone your Antique observation skills!

Question Everything.....

Just like the childhood game of ’20 questions’ it is always smart to approach dating any chair by asking yourself simple questions based on the facts in front of you. The easiest to ask is what material the chair is made from? Plastic did not appear until the middle of the 20th Century, iron chairs were not popular until the mid-19th Century, Chrome and Aluminium emerged in the 1920s etc. The golden age of Mahogany was from the early 18th Century to the early 20th Century and although oak has remained in constant use for centuries the way it ages is unmistakable. Therefore, while you might not be able to instantly differentiate between 17th, 18th or even 19th Century oak, you can probably work out from the colour if it is newer than that. Cane has been used in chairs since the 17th Century but gets darker and more brittle as it ages and was less popular from the 1930s onwards, fabrics are highly fashion sensitive so should give you a big clue provided they are original (beware even old looking fabrics may be later replacements).