These are just a few pointers to consider when you are starting to look for an antique desk or library or writing table. It is not by any means a comprehensive list of areas to consider but it may help get you stated if you are just beginning to look.
Originality and Authenticity:
The reproduction furniture market is as popular as ever offering new or recently made furniture which can still command a high price for the workmanship involved. However, while these pieces are often well made and serviceable they will not hold their value over time. And if you are reading this we assume you are looking for a genuine antique piece of furniture and looking for some advice.
If you are looking for a genuine antique piece of furniture it is important to choose your carefully as there a few pitfalls for the unaware.
Choose a reputable antique dealer
Preferably find someone who has been in the antiques profession for many years or has the backing of a professional antique dealers association such as LAPADA. This will ensure that they operate by a strict code of conduct, you have recourse to complain if necessary and any purchase is covered by their insurance.
Look at the drawers:
A good indicator of quality are the drawer linings, those made in oak, mahogany and cedar are generally best.
Also most antique cabinet work has been crafted by hand and the drawers have small fine dovetailed joints.
If you see thick wide dovetails this suggests they have been machine made.
Look at the locks and furniture stamps:
If the piece has the original locks, and especially if they are stamped with the manufacturer’s name this is also an indicator of good quality.
N.B. Most old desks have been restored at least once during their life and this is not going to detract from the authenticity of the piece.
Check that it has been restored sympathetically not overdone and undertaken in a traditional manner with a
French polished or waxed finish, not polyurethane varnish!
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