What Qualifies An Item As Antique?

how to tell which items are antique, which items are reproductions, which are fake, and which are just plain old

When shopping for antiques, it can be very difficult to differentiate which items are antique, which items are reproductions, which are fake, and which are just plain old.

By definition, antique means objects produced in previous times that are valuable because they are rare. Technically, in the United States, it means an item that is as least 100 years old, especially where furniture is concerned. By European standards, and item is only considered to be antique if it was made before 1832, and the Industrial Revolution when items were still made by hand. While items made since these times can still be considered valuable, they are not considered antique. Instead, they are called vintage, period, or antique items. There is also a category called collectable which may be any age at all. What makes it collectable is appreciation of value since the item was purchased.

In general, antiques wear well, and are still in good condition regardless of age. It is not advisable to purchase an item merely because it is 150 years old if it is basically "on its last leg". Once the item becomes worn and unusable, it ceases to be a valuable antique in most cases, and becomes merely old.

When looking to purchase an antique, it is advisable to educate yourself on the specific item you are looking to buy. Do not purchase the first piece you come upon no matter what the dealer says. Do not purchase antiques as you would purchase a car. If the "sale" price is good today, chances are it will still be good tomorrow. Do not bow to pressure. Instead, take the time to shop around and get to know your antique dealer. By determining the character of the dealer, you will also be able to determine the quality of your antique. Comparing the price of the item you are looking to purchase among different dealers, will help you make an educated decision. Do not purchase the least expensive item. If the price is too good to be true, chances are it is.

Antique reproductions are items that are mass-produced to look like antique items. There is nothing wrong with purchasing antique reproductions, as long as they are not represented as antique. When examining your antique items for purchase, follow these guidelines to be sure they are not antique reproductions:

1. An item cannot be 18th century if there are circular saw marks in the wood. Turn the item over and examine it for type of saw used.

2. An antique dealer will not have multiples of the same items. This should be a tip off that the item has been mass produced.

3. The underside of antiques will not be painted, stained, or varnished. This means that the manufacturer is trying to hide something.

4. Antiques are symmetrical. Make sure there are no differences in the style or details in between the top and bottoms of the items.

5. Antique furniture will be imperfect due to shrinkage of wood.

6. Look at the hardware. Antique furniture will not have new, shiny, or modern screws.

7. Use your gut feelings. If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the item, do not buy it.

8. Ask the dealer for a certificate of authenticity, and if they ask for a money back guarantee. If they are not willing to guarantee the item then they are not willing to stand by the authenticity of the item.

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