Find the value of antique furniture
You likely have at least one old piece of furniture at home that you've owned for years, recently inherited, or scooped up at an estate sale or flea market. And you're thinking it might be worth something, but you're having a hard time identifying the item’s age, its style, its maker and of course the big question: how much it might be worth. Our Furniture Specialists are here to help and tell you everything we know about it.
HOW TO FIND THE VALUE OF ANTIQUE FURNITURE
Nowadays, most furniture that you’re likely to own or encounter dates from the late-18th century on. A piece doesn’t necessarily increase in value as it ages; in fact being old or handmade doesn’t guarantee value at all. What’s more important is that the item be authentic, of high-quality make and materials, and that its components are all original. That means no major, visible repairs – like the replacement of feet or insertion of modern screws – or embellishments.
Along with its intrinsic qualities, what an old piece will fetch is also subject somewhat to contemporary fashion and design trends. In the past 300 years, there have been dozens of eras and styles and, while each always has its fans, different periods go in and out of vogue (like the current craze for Mid-Century Modern, sparked by the TV series Mad Men).
Since furniture is part of the decorative arts, and meant to be used, practicality is also a factor. Smaller living spaces make massive pieces less popular; changes in living styles mean long dining room tables aren’t as sought after as they once were.
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KEEP YOUR FURNITURE FRESH
Three other things determine a piece’s value: condition, condition, condition. If you’re not using a piece, keep in covered or wrapped in cloth or acid-free paper. If you are, keep it out of unusually damp areas like basements and overly hot areas like attics, and away from bright sunlight and high humidity. Aside from basic dusting, brushing off excess dirt and, in the case of glass, hand-cleaning, it’s probably best not to wash, clean or do more than a light polish. Old pieces should have signs of age. If there are chips, cracks, splinters, dings, gouges or other damage, don’t try to fix it yourself, unless the piece is in imminent danger of breaking completely.
GENUINE, REPRODUCTION OR RETRO?
To an inexperienced eye it can be difficult to tell the difference between a genuine period piece, a well-done modern reproduction, or a retro or revival piece that dates from one era but hearkens back to an earlier one (like a 19th-century rendition of an 18th century-style chair). While furniture that is typical or characteristic of the original, leading styles of its day usually fetches the most, retro pieces are not without interest: For example, there is a whole group of collectors of Colonial Revival furniture – pieces made around the turn of the 20th century that were a pastiche of American Revolution styles.
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE MAKER OF A PIECE OF FURNITURE
Our Savvy Furniture Specialists use the submitted photos to identify maker/manufacturer names, signatures brands, trademarks and logos. Be sure to send us close-ups of any markings, along with any paper labels or sticks still affixed to the item. A combination of exclusive technology and specialist expertise allows us to quickly identify antique, vintage and modern pieces alike.
HOW TO FIND A PIECE OF FURNITURE’S VALUE
Once we've identified the artist, our Savvy Furniture Specialists complete a Quick Appraisal which includes research, stories and special features about your piece. If it's documented, we also tell you more about the specific item, including a valuation analysis that includes what similar pieces have sold for.
SELL FURNITURE ONLINE
After our Quick Appraisal, StuffSavvy can match you with Online Partners to get you the most value for furniture you'd like to sell. This is a good option when you know the value you want to sell the item for.
FIND PLACES TO SELL FURNITURE NEAR ME
After our Quick Appraisal, StuffSavvy can also match you with local consignment shops, dealers and auction houses. This is the best option if you want to work with additional Specialists to maximize the furniture’s value.