• 12
    Dec

That’s My Story – Shaky Family Histories no Guarantee of Provenance

The life story of an antique—where it’s been, who owned it and how it came to be where it is—is known as the “provenance” of the piece. A good provenance is supported by documents or photos that verify the story. These might include bills of sale, household inventories, wills, gift receipts and contemporary photos. In […]

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  • 14
    Nov

Passing the Smell Test – Telling Good Advice from the Bad

Need some advice about furniture? Want to know how to repair that chair or fix that ugly spot on the table top? Have a question about the properties of a specific finish or what stripper to use on a tough project? Finding advice about furniture issues is about as hard as catching a cold in […]

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  • 31
    Oct

The Retrophile Files: Junktiquing in New York City at Furnish Green

When self-confessed “estate sale” junkie and professional dance instructor Nathan Hescock decided to furnish his dance studio in New York City with vintage finds, his clients took notice. As a result, Hescock started selling pieces right off the dance floor. Eventually, his side business of rescuing and restoring second-hand furniture became a full time green-minded […]

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  • 31
    Oct

Good Reproductions: Baker Furniture Solves the Colonial Revival Riddle

After the American Revolution ended in 1783, the fledgling country struggled to establish its new identity in a number of areas, including furniture style and design. It plowed through the Federal period—unabashedly using the ideas of English designers like Hepplewhite and Sheraton—and then climbed into the Empire period in the footsteps of Napoleon. When the […]

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  • 17
    Oct

Murphy’s Law: Not All That Folds is a Murphy

Furniture can be quite cumbersome, especially in small quarters. Or even in big ones. In medieval times, the great room of an estate was a multifunction room, serving first as banquet hall then as recreation room. The banquet tables were merely planks placed across trestles and after the meal the whole assembly could quickly be […]

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  • 3
    Oct

Victorian Specialty Furniture: Wait in the Hall

The 19th century in the United States started out as period of major political strife with little attention to the development of furniture. Sure, there was the Federal period and the Empire period, but those were more adaptations to style than innovation in form. There were other things to worry about. There was the War […]

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  • 6
    Sep

Organic Threats Present Dangers to Your Furniture

There are lots of things in the world that are good for your older and antique furniture—controlled temperature and humidity, regular cleaning, careful use and loving attention. But there are also lots of things out there that are bad for your furniture—flood water, excess light, inappropriate polishes and fire are the most common—but there is […]

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  • 22
    Aug

Furniture Made to Fit the Social Function

I have mentioned many times that one definition of furniture is “functional art.” Furniture is almost an absolute requirement in today’s society. We must have chairs and beds, tables and sofas, bookcases and dressers, mirrors and desks. Those are forms of furniture that blend in with our everyday duties of living and working. They are […]

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  • 10
    Aug

The Furniture Detective: Old Brass – Or Is It?

When you read the catalog for an auction that will be presenting some genuine antique furniture, it’s always interesting to read the descriptions. Some the most alluring will describe a piece of furniture as having “original finish” or “original brasses.” That’s a real selling point when looking at a chest of drawers that may be […]

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  • 25
    Jul

Wicker Furniture: A Process, Not a Material

Everybody knows what wicker is. Right? It’s that woven stuff that’s painted white. It may even be that stuff used in some chair seats. Or is that cane? Or rush or reed? As it turns out, the word wicker in furniture terms actually refers to a process rather than a product. The process is the […]

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