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Shopping for Antiques and Identifying Their Value

When going shopping for antiques, it's a good idea to bring along a notebook with room dimensions, pictures and fabric swatches.

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the first thing to look at is the wood

Shopping for Antiques

The first tip to remember is to narrow the search to a single item to help keep from getting sidetracked.

Take along room dimensions, a tape measure, room color chips and fabric swatches. Examine items closely. Wiggle the item to make sure it's sturdy. If shopping for chairs, sit in them to get the feel and determine their sturdiness.

Always invest time in looking before buying. Browsing through antiques stores is one of the best ways to learn, because shoppers can examine items closely and compare different pieces and prices.

Antique Value

Antiques expert Richard Norton says furniture can be read like a book. Follow these steps to help reveal the authenticity of an antique walnut commode.

The first thing Richard looks at is wood. In this case the wood is walnut, which was the favorite high-end choice of the time. Slightly darker wood around the mounted hardware -- the original walnut that hasn't faded -- indicates that the metal hardware is all original. At the base of the chest the feet are slightly rounded, showing years of gentle wear. A quick look at the drawer sides reveals dovetailing that all reads the same way, indicating that the same pair of hands did all the work.

This piece is unusual because it is signed by the maker. The maker put his signature on the piece because a tax was collected on furniture, and the signature proves that the tax was paid. This is a very good way to date a piece and document the maker. The top is hand-worked marble. Running a finger along the curve of the beveled edge reveals a smooth finish on the front and sides of the piece and a rough edge at the back. A new piece, with a machine finish, would have a smooth edge all the way around.

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