If your next great find must come from furniture of the past but you’re a novice at buying antiques, we’re here to help.
Assuming you already know where to find an antique sofa for sale, this article should help you identify antiques and tell the difference between a hidden treasure and something that’s best ignored.
Vintage furniture is one of the hottest furniture trends today. From vintage-inspired Chesterfield sofas to Victorian dining chairs, there is an undeniable renewed interest driven by the sustainable-loving younger generation and their desire to bring rustic energy into modern interiors.
So whether you want an accent antique sofa in your living room to move with the times or you want to mix an antique settee with a modern leather sofa to demonstrate your decorating prowess, here’s are some tips and guidance to buying antique sofas.
But first, is there a difference between vintage and antique?
Vintage vs Antique
Vintage and antique furniture are both old and should be cared for in much the same way. The main difference between the two lies in age.
Technically speaking, a piece of furniture is considered antique when it is at least a hundred years old. Anything less than a hundred (at least 40 years old for most antique dealers) is categorized as vintage.
Rare antique furniture pieces could mean one of five things:
1.Only a few were made of the particular piece
2.Only a few of the original pieces can be found today
3.A rare or uncommon design was used for the pieces
4.A rare or unusual size or shape was used for the pieces
5.Few to none are being reproduced to this day
Reproductions, however, are not antiques.
Reproduction vs Antique
Reproductions are replicas of an antique that are made to recreate the piece for various reasons.
This could be because reproductions tend to be less expensive and are more sturdy. They have an aged look without the chance of coming apart. It could also be because the antique piece is rare, beautiful (and therefore worth reproducing), and none can be found anymore.
On the other hand, antiques are, again, pieces of furniture that are a hundred years old.
How to Identify Antique Sofas
Not all sofas with rolled arms are antique. Below are some key pointers to identifying antique furniture.
Factory-made antique furniture pieces generally have stamps or labels on them. Look for labels, stamps, or manufacturing identifiers on the sides, undersides, back, or lower edges of the piece. Furniture makers of old frequently listed their names, locations, and year of production on these labels, though be aware that markings can be faked.
So aside from making sure the label is really old, make sure the sofa is showing other signs of being an antique.
Antique furniture is exquisite and charming but rarely perfect. Perfect symmetry in "antique" furniture is a dead giveaway that it’s manufactured by a machine. A genuine antique sofa does not have a consistent construction and will have minor variations in curves.
Carved details are easy to identify because they were done by hand. However, machine-cut parts were introduced in the mid-nineteenth century. So if you don't see any irregularity, it's best to look for other signs that you’re buying a real antique sofa.
Another thing to remember when you’re looking for an antique sofa for sale is that it may use multiple kinds of wood.
Real antique furniture is rarely made of entirely the same kind of wood, particularly those hidden from views.
Look for distinct wood varieties on the bottom parts or the arms. It would also be helpful to date the furniture according to the majority of wood that was used.
Oak was quite popular in the 17th century, whereas mahogany and walnut were the trends in the 18th century. Maple and cherry took dominant in the 19th century until rosewood and mahogany resurfaced. Then oak resurfaced as a fashionable material.
You can't tell a piece’s age merely by looking at the wood type, but if you can match the style to the wood type, you may be able to estimate its age.
Finish & Appearance
It’s important to look for signs of age in the wood, the fading finish, accumulated dirt in corners, and other obvious signs of wear and tear of at least a hundred years old sofa.
Some antique sofas may already have been reupholstered but antique sofa should still have strong metal springs.
Note that reproduction sofas are common and they may have all the appearance of old furniture. Dishonest sellers will pass them off as antiques but furniture reproduction boutiques will be upfront about it.
Ready to Buy Your First Antique Sofa?
Antique furniture adds warmth and character to any home, and an antique sofa is a perfect piece to showcase those. Get into the trend—or get history inside your home with a piece of furniture from the past. Whatever you do, make sure you’re buying the real thing.
Here at Eloquence®, we have both antique reproduction and genuine European antique sofa for sale that you can mix and match with modern furniture or add to your French Country style interiors. You can check our shop or request a catalog and ask us for any questions you may have.