Antique or Old Junk? How to Identify Antiques

Shows such as Storage Wars and Antiques Roadshow have piqued viewers’ interest in finding treasures in what might seem to be junk to the untrained eye. Before cleaning out your attic or neighborhood garage sale, consider the following tips that can help you identify antiques from old junk.

Look for Identifying Marks

Antique items such as pottery, metalwork, glass or porcelain often have identifying marks or signatures. Look for those marks and then do a little research online to find information on the piece. You can often get a good idea of how much the piece will sell for by looking at the manufacturer’s website if they are still in existence or looking at eBay.

Telltale Signs of Handmade Antique Wooden Furniture

A fine antique dealer will tell you that for a piece of furniture to be considered it’s an antique it has to be 150 years or older. A general antique store might tell you it needs to be 50 years or older. But one of the best ways to determine if an old piece of wooden furniture is an antique is to look at how it was joined. Before machine-cut furniture came into existence in 1860, furniture joints were dovetailed by hand. If dovetails look too perfect and are closely spaced, the piece was machine cut. Look for nicks, cuts or straight saw marks, which can be signs that the piece was handmade before 1860.

If you find that you might have something valuable, consult with a reputable appraiser for an estimate of the value of your piece. Be wary of appraisers who try to press you to sell items to them because it creates a conflict of interest and you may not be receiving what the items are really worth

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Kim Vechiola
Kim Vechiola is the National Auction Buyer Advocate for StorageTreasures.com. Her role is to manage the relationships with the buyer community to ensure their voice is heard.
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