Antique Dining Chairs Tips

Antique Dining Chairs: Determining Vintage And How Rare They Are

As with any type of antique furniture, all antique dining chairs are unique and need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, there are common traits to look for when attempting to judge the vintage and rarity of a piece. Antique chairs, in particular, can be difficult to judge because they almost always come as a set. This makes judging their value as an entity more complicated because some chairs may appear older, show more wear, or be slightly different from the rest (due to past handling or refurnishing attempts). It is also important to remember that, when determining the level of vintage of a set of chairs, is not uncommon for one chair in a set to break and be replaced in the course of its lifetime, leaving the chairs in the set – while probably still aesthetically similar – quintessentially mismatched. Antique furniture experts define “antique furniture” as furniture crafted before the 1930s.

Antique Dining Chairs

Antique Dining Chairs

Guidelines To Assessing The Vintage Quality

  • Look for the craftsman’s signature on antique dining chairs. It was common practice in the past (and still is, to some degree, today) to include some sort of signature on the items one creates. It will not be obviously viewable, that would diminish from the chair’s aesthetic value, so you should check places such as the inside of the chair’s legs and under the seat. If a signature is located, you can consult reference books, an expert, or the Internet in hopes of discovering its origin.
  • With wooden dining chairs, as with any wood furniture, the wood is going to shrink and warp slightly as it ages. If you measure a piece from several different angles and the measurements should match perfectly but they don’t, this could be taken as a sign the piece of furniture is vintage. This is not a fool proof indicator, by any means, but it is something to consider.
  • If at all possible, attempt to (very carefully!) remove a screw from the chair in question. By looking at the end of the screw, you should be able to determine if the chair was constructed before or after the mid-1800s. If the screw has a sharp point, it is probably a more modern piece of furniture because up until the mid-1800s, screws were crafted to have a duller, flattened end.
  • You should attempt to test the chair’s finish, if there is any way you can be allowed to do so. This is one of the most accurate ways to date a very old chair. You should test the piece in an inconspicuous spot, using only denatured alcohol (and only a very small amount). If the finish dissolves, it is shellac. This could help you date the piece because lacquer and varnish were not invented or used on furniture until the mid-1800s. However, if a piece is exceptionally old, it might also have been finished using milk paint, wax, or oil. If the piece is painted, you should test its paint with a very small amount of ammonia. Ammonia will remove milk paint, wax, and oil. Knowing that one of these substances was used to paint the antique dining chair can help you determine its vintage.
  • As far as judging how rare antique dining chairs are, it is probably best to consult an expert unless you have a lot of experience. Because there are many variables and tiny details to consider, an expert opinion will save you a lot of time in the long run, as well as probably being more accurate than an amateur opinion. So how do you find this expert?

Finding Antique Appraisers Who Might Help You Gauge Rarity

  • Ask local antique dealers or antique auctioneers to recommend someone for you.
  • Attend an antique event or show in your area. You should be able to find an antique dealer (or a good recommendation for one) at these events.
  • Create an account at websites like iTaggit to find out when free antique appraisal events are happening near you.
  • Try going to an Antique Roadshow convention! Their tour dates can be found on the PBS website or by simply typing the shows name into Google. Find out when they are coming to a town near you and make a day of it, this could be fun as well as an effective way to have your antique dining chairs judged! Keep in mind that many well respected, certified appraisers offer free antique appraisals at their homes or business locations – all you have to do is ask! Also, you can often find one of these experts offering their services at community events, lectures, or fundraisers.

Ways You Can Evaluate Rarity On Your Own

  • Do your research. There are countless books, journals, magazines, newsletters, and websites full of information for people interested in judging antique furniture. There are even specific ones made for people interested in antique dining room chairs! Note as many characteristics of your antique as possible, then begin to search out the rarity of that trait. Pay special attention to color, finish, style, size, and craftsmanship.
  • Like when you are trying to gage the vintage of a piece, it can be extremely helpful to your cause if you can locate a signature from the craftsman on the piece. If you find the signature, you could research it to learn if the particular maker was someone who made many pieces of the same furniture, or if he liked to make unique, individual pieces. This will obviously help you to determine if the piece is rare.
  • Lastly, use your own common sense and judgment when deciding how rare you believe a piece to be. If it looks like something that could only be build as a one of a kind piece (if it has very intricate, hand-done work, for example) then you should still do your research but also follow your gut feelings. Likewise, if the piece appears to be of a nature that would be easy to replicate, you should be suspicious that it might not be that rare of a piece.

As you can see, determining vintage and rarity in antique dining chairs is a very complex, multivariable undertaking. However, if you can find that perfect set of antique dining chairs, it is well worth the effort.

You can read more about furniture: Ultimate Dreams Mattress: Tips Mattress for Side Sleepers

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