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How To Spot A Fake Antique Furniture

Updated on May 2, 2017
Source: Bing Free to use and share
Source: Bing Free to use and share

Tips on how to identify fake antique furniture.

By Sharon Stajda,

As long as antiques have been around, there have been fakes, and reproductions out there in the marketplace. Often telling the two apart can be somewhat difficult, even to the trained eye of an antique expert. However, antiques, are fashionable and on trend, this popularity has resulted in antique furniture items being copied and reproduced. Just like clothing and jewelry are copied, antique furniture reproductions are often copied, and unfortunately many are made so cheap-looking that they are obviously fake.

However, there are clever copies on which much time, and effort has been spent to make them look authentically aged, and much like the real thing. Because these reproductions appear so much like the real thing, it can be hard to spot a fake. Particularly to those who know little about antiques. So, common sense should tell one before buying or selling antiques, do your homework, and learn how to spot a genuine or fake antique.

Antique Inspired Furniture Reproductions

Reproduction antique furniture has been popular for many years. However, the number of antiques being reproduced, and sold has never been greater than at the present time. Examples of reproduced antique furniture range from certain styles of the 17th century through the 18th century, as well as early Victorian era furniture. All sorts of other antiques are also being reproduced. Items such as household furnishings, accessories from wallpaper to textiles, and numerous other antiques have also proved popular as reproductions

Comparatively few people know enough about more than one field of antiques to tell a fake or reproduction from an authentic antique item. This is as true of antique dealers as well as the public. An antique dealer who is an authority on Chippendale furniture, may have only superficial knowledge about another type of antique furniture style.

When you see several of the same design beware.


Three Groups Of Reproduction Furniture

Fake or reproduction antiques fall into one of three groups; clever fakes; cheap imitations; as well as sound well produced reproductions. All three of these groups have been made to such an extent during the 20th century that probably every major group of antiques has been cloned at one time or another. It's really quite easy to be fooled, particularly if the maker crafted the piece with intent to deceive the general marketplace. However, the piece of furniture that is most careful faked is no more comparable to the antique on which it was based, than the garish imitations of fine old china or figurines sold in many discount stores. Their quantity in the marketplace should be the first clue to their recent origin. Antique furniture has become more rare over the past years.

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Learn To Look And Smell For Authenticity

A cleverly fake or reproduction antique piece of furniture is sometimes offered as a genuine antique, particularly in the case of antique furniture. A manufacture of reproductions can combine old wood taken perhaps from an old piece of furniture, combine it with new wood to make a very convincing piece of furniture. So, what may appear old is only half old. There is also much effort expended to copy the fine characteristic details of a given style of antique furniture, and to simulate aged materials. However, a fake is still a fake.

The combination of old and new wood can produce a good reproductions sometimes very hard to spot.

There is of course nothing wrong with a good reproduction, as long as the seller of the item doesn't try to pass it off as a genuine antique. Many reproductions are such close copies that it would be difficult to actually tell the difference. As a rule there is a giveaway that is easy to spot on fake antique furniture. Look for lack of ware, keep in mind with years of use there should be somewhere on the piece of furniture. When assessing for ware look for areas that would be considered as daily wear, check the arms as well as the seat of a chair for instance. Smell the wood for a dust smell. Old furniture should smell old, and dusty. You should not be able to smell the odor of a fresh wood. If it is an antique, the smell of fresh wood should be long gone with the wood's age. Look for a dusty smell, this smell comes with age, and can't be easily duplicated.


Price Is No Guarantee Of Authenticity

Some people buy a reproduction particularly in furniture because they think they cannot afford a genuine antique. Actually, reproductions that are carefully produced replicas are sometimes as costly as an originals antique. This is true of American Chippendale style furniture. The cost of the labor necessary to produce even a clever fake piece of Chippendale. Which only one-fourth is actually old made of old wood, and the remainder treated to look like old wood. The labor costs, and time put into making fake furniture is so great that the price is nearly as costly as a real piece of antique Chippendale furniture.


What Can The Average Person Do To Spot A Fake?

Do research on an antique piece of furniture before you purchase it. Take with a good antique dealer or antique appraiser. Check out a book or two from the library on the specific type of antique you are going to purchase.

Have you ever bought what you believed to be an antique, that turned out to be fake?

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