A dresser was considered in the past a required piece of furniture in many early 20th century homes. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1900s that most houses had closets and for that matter included shelving. Many houses now-a-days even have built-ins in the closets to put clothes. As we stock our Antique Store in Georgia , we are constantly faced with these questions, so we would like to share some tips to help in your research.So how do you determine whether the beloved piece of the past is a true antique or a recent production? The most common ways to determine the age of a piece of furniture is looking at the wood used to make the furniture, the carving on the furniture and finally the hardware or lack or hardware.

Consider the Types of Wood

Most antiques would have been constructed of several different types of wood due to availability and cost. Let’s say for example a carpenter was building a dresser and he knew that he had one oak tree and lots of pines to use for materials. The carpenter may choose to use the oak, which is a prettier wood on the outsides and use pine on the areas less visible. This allows him to have a good piece of furniture without depleting his materials. This is the same for manufacturing companies in the later 1800s and early 1900s. These days furniture may be constructed of the same type of wood throughout or if a lesser quality of wood is used in less visible places, that wood is usually particle board. You may also want to look at the wood for discoloration and shrinkage. Consider that wood has water in it and the pieces were put together shortly after harvesting the wood. As the wood dries out it shrinks and may turn color. Furniture made in the middle to late 1900s was made mostly of kiln dried wood which doesn’t shrink nearly as much.

Look at the Carved Areas

The carvings on an antique piece of furniture will definitely have a distinct look and feel. Consider our carpenter from earlier. Without the manufacturing equipment we see these days, he would have hand crafted each and every piece of the furniture. Therefore, the carvings will be imperfect throughout. As a side note, isn’t that a lot of why we love antiques; the imperfections? So feel around the carvings for ridges, bumps or even cuts in the wood. If these exist then there is a good chance this piece of furniture is an antique.

Review the Hardware for Signs of Age

Older furniture will have hardware on it that was made without the luxury of newer technologies and finishing materials. Older hardware will show signs of discoloration due to oxidation over time. You may also see that the wood area around the hardware is a darker color also due to the oxidation. The final way that hardware can determine age of an antique piece of furniture is if the piece of furniture doesn’t contain rails and/or the knobs are made of wood. Metal was a luxury and hard to form in the late 1800s to early 1900s, so many craftsman would put furniture together with only the wood that was available to them.

 If you are looking to determine whether your prized possession, grandma’s armoire or maybe even that piece in the Antique Store in Georgia is a true antique, keep in mind that you should be looking at the types of woods used to make the furniture, the craftsmanship of the carvings and finally the hardware use on the furniture. If you would like to learn more, contact us at Remember When Antiques 770-888-2991.