The urge to find and refinish a piece of furniture is a feeling that some say, can develop into an addiction. Nevertheless, if you are new to this experience and your determination has you seeking for a piece, a great place to start looking is a garage or an old attic. After finding that wooden treasure, it is time to make sure you know the difference between the old and the antique, when it comes to furniture.
What is the difference between a piece of furniture that is just old and a real antique?
Depending on the type of antique dealer, the age of an antique is subjective. A general antique is usually considered any piece of furniture older than 50 years. A fine antique is generally one that is 150 years or older. Examining the joinery, the joints or places it comes together, to see whether it is handmade or precisely cut, reveals its age. A piece made pre-1860, before machine cutting began, is generally antique. Another way to tell is the finish: pieces made before 1860 were finished with shellac. You can test a piece in an inconspicuous place with denatured alcohol, or if the finish is painted over, with ammonia. Additionally, the wood itself is a possibly a final clue. Much of the furniture before the 1700s was made of oak; after 1700 walnut and mahogany wood was widely used. Looking over these clues on the piece, gives you a fair idea of whether it is just old or really an antique.