How Can You Tell If An Antique Is Genuine?


If you’ve ever watched those shows where people discover an old item is not worthless junk but a valuable antique then you’ll probably be ready to search your home for any antiques you own.

The problem is, how can you tell if an antique is genuine?

Fortunately we have the answer!


This type of joint is used by master craftsman. The dovetail is found in many antique pieces of furniture and dates from a time when items were created by hand.

A good dovetail joint is exceptionally strong but it should not be perfectly straight. Antique furniture has been made by hand, it is virtually impossible to get a join straight. This is the preserve of modern machines.

The Finish

There are two potential issues with the finish. The first is that it looks really old. This can often mean that it has been dressed to look old as this should increase the price.

However, real antique furniture will be well worn inside the drawers and show signs of wear on the runners.


A shiny finish does not mean that it is not an antique! However it needs to be consistent with the rest of the item. A good french polishing firm can restore the finish of an antique piece without damaging the item.

Make sure it has been done properly.


 Antique furniture is generally handmade and made with pride. This means there should be a label with the name of the craftsman and perhaps a number for the product. There may even be a date which will allow you to discover just how old a piece is.

Sometimes this information is carved into the wood and can be difficult to locate. It is worth looking as this is a great sign of authenticity.

The Wood

If you bought an item today new and discovered it was made of oak and pine you would probably be horrified.

However, in days gone by craftsmen used the expensive wood where it could be seen and cheaper wood in other places.

This made good economic sense and helped to keep the price of their products reasonable.

If you find an antique that uses all the same type of wood there is a good chance it’s a reproduction!

Forget Symmetry

The lack of straight lines does not just apply to the joints of the furniture. Antique furniture is made without the benefit of machines. This means that a dead straight line is highly unlikely.

Don’t look for symmetry in an antique; instead appreciate the quality of the craftsman ship that managed to create a desk, sideboard or some other item; all by hand.

Once you think you’ve found an antique then you should consider what it is really worth before purchasing. Just because it is old does not mean it is ridiculously valuable.

Of course the value of any item is in what someone is willing to pay for it. The better known the name of the product; the higher the value is likely to be.

Now it’s time to look through all the furniture in your home!

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