• 17
    May

The Real Hitchcock Chair: How to Tell Originals from Reproductions

Everyone knows what a Hitchcock chair is, right? The small, rickety chairs with the rush or cane seats, usually painted black with lots of leaves and flowers and fruit painted all over it. Sometimes they have solid seats that show a dark natural wood surrounded by black paint and gold stripes and more leaves painted […]

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  • 23
    Mar

Vanity, Thy Name Is . . .

In Colonial America, having a decent place to get dressed was a serious problem. Decent mirrors, or even the decent plate glass for making them, had to be imported from England or the Continent and it was very expensive. In fact, mirrors were so dear that before the 19th century they were never actually attached […]

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  • 26
    Oct

Wood Shrinkage in Antique Furniture is to be Expected

The next time you visit a genuine antique furniture shop, pay particular attention to the concept of wood shrinkage. When a tree is felled it contains at least as much water as it does solids—50 percent or more—and weighs more at that moment than it will ever weigh again. As the tree loses moisture over […]

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  • 29
    Sep

Living with Country Antiques: Fixing a Table with a Sticky Top

I received a letter from a reader, asking about a country farm table with a particular problem: “We found it at an outdoor antiques show last fall. It sat in our garage until this spring, when we finally were able to use our new room. We didn’t cover the table because the garage is clean. […]

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  • 15
    Sep

George Hunzinger’s 19th-Century ‘Patent Furniture’ is Easy to Identify

This rocking chair is an example made by the factory of Hunzinger was born in Germany in 1835 to a family that had been cabinetmakers since the 17th century. He emigrated to New York at the age of 20, already trained as a furniture maker; one of many German cabinetmakers, including the Herter Brothers, who came […]

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  • 8
    Sep

The Thrill of the Hunt: Netting a Rare Butterfly Table

A few years ago, Steve Fletcher—the lead auctioneer of Skinner Auction Gallery in Boston—had just accepted a glass of water and stepped down from the podium to take a break. Karen Keane, the president and CEO of the company, was now behind the auctioneer’s mike. “Good!” I said to myself. Keane, like Fletcher, is a […]

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  • 13
    Aug

20th Century Casters – More Rust than Roll

One of the mysteries of the universe to me is “Why do so many 20th century pieces of furniture have wheels or casters on them?” A clue of sorts can be found in the generic name of many early 20th century items, those that are known as “Colonial Revival.” These pieces are modern replays of […]

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  • 8
    Jul

Antique Furniture Tags: What They Say and What They Should Say

One of my favorite pastimes of course is antiquing; looking at and for antique furniture. One of my second favorites is reading the tags people put on antique furniture in an effort to sell it. These can often be much more enjoyable than the furniture they are attached to. Ideally, there are several important pieces […]

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  • 11
    Jun

Sometimes the Difference Between a Copy and an Original Isn’t Much

We are often asked about “Mission Style” furniture, people see a piece of Mission furniture by well known makers such as Stickley, Limbert or Roycroft on one of the many Roadshow-type television series and wonder what makes them so valuable and their own nameless pieces worth one-tenth the price. The answer is a combination of […]

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  • 26
    May

Dirty Old Furniture Finish: Is It Seattle ‘Grunge’ or Is It Patina?

A few years ago I had an elderly lady walk into my antique furniture restoration shop with an unusual request. In a slightly embarrassed manner she told me that she knew this was a professional shop and this was how I made my living, but just this once would I sell her just a little […]

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