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Collectible Furniture

by daryles-antiques-finearts (05/13/08).
American country bamboo Windsor arm chair c1800. Offered at One of A Kind Antiques for $385

I have intentionally not written on furniture, because my general rule is that if it is larger than a bread box it is to large for me. You see at 66, I don’t think that I still have the desire to break my back hauling large pieces of furniture. However this isn’t fair to you, if you’re interested in furniture, and so because of this, I’ll do a series on furniture anyway.

The best way to approach these items is by breaking them out into groups. So knowing this I think that I will start with Chairs. It would take weeks to share with you all that is needed to become the expert on this subject but I will try to give you the preliminary facts to get you started.

First, it is a matter of knowing what the true collector is looking for in chairs. Does he collect Modern, Arts and Crafts, Early American or 18th and 19th century European pieces? The material for each of these can give you a start as to their value. Then the workmanship, the designer and the company can place a huge premium on the items you find.

You will usually find that the older European chairs you find will exhibit wonderful carvings and detail. These need to be authenticated by an expert, because any restoration or replacement of piece can change the value tremendously. The dovetailing and the shape of the legs can define what period a chair is from. Before taking on these chairs, be sure to study as many books on their construction and shape as you can. Don’t be fooled by reproductions and this is where depending on the experts comes into play.

Early American is where you can really increase your profits, if you are knowledgeable enough to spot the true antique pieces. The real value comes if there is a tag or mark on the chair that you find so that it can be identified as a pieces produced by a certain craftsman. These can usually be found on the bottom of the chair seat. The experts can tell where a chair was produced by the materials used in their construction because most furniture was product with native lumber. So if the chair was made with wood that wasn’t grown naturally in that area, it is more than likely that it wasn’t made there.

Like the European chairs, the Early American ones must be in untouched condition, nothing added or nothing taken away. Early American chairs have been written about the most. People like to use them in their homes and collectors have a high interest in them. But, know that most of the Early American chairs have also been reproduced.

A short time ago, a chair was sold here in Chicago at an auction house that originally estimated it to go between $4,000-$6,000. It amazed everyone when it was hammered at $22,000. Shortly thereafter, the buyer sold it again in New York. Are you ready for this? He sold it for over two million dollars. Many early examples sell for $100,000 – $500,000.

There is a lot to say about chairs, and I will continue tomorrow on other types.

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