How To Value Antique Tables

February 4, 2013

Whether you have an antique table that has been in your family for a while, or you have recently acquired one, there are some steps you can take to determine its value and how old it is. From spotting the tell tale signs of modern manufacture, to watching out for aspects of its structure that will devalue it, there are small details that can indicate what your antique table is worth.

Looking Out for Signs of Modern Manufacturing

When examining an antique table, there are signs of modern manufacturing you can investigate. By running your hands along the table’s edge, you can feel for sharper edging. Edges that are sharp are signs of modern processing, whereas those that are smooth or uneven are typical of antique pieces. If possible, take a look at the screws that have been used to fit the furniture together. If the width between the screw’s ridges differs slightly with each one, it may be an antique piece. If the screws are even and look alike, that is a sign that they are a by-product of a modern manufacturing process.


Determine the Date of Your Antique Table

One way to determine which period your antique table is from is to investigate the style of legs that have been used. Cabriole legs have ‘snake feet’, which is an indication that your antique table was produced in the mid 18th century. Legs resembling an elephant trunk mean your table could be from the mid 14th to the mid 16th century. Legs that have a splayed style are indicative of 19th century tables, while those that are chunky and uneven may hail from the medieval to the early-modern period.

It is also possible to date your antique table by looking at the style of the top. While those that are oak, thick, and less polished than we would come to expect from modern pieces may come from the early-modern period, items that reflect our modern shiny tastes may come from the mid-19th century onwards. As the industrial revolution hit in the late 18th century, manufacturing became a simpler process. This means that some pieces which look modern may actually be older than you think.

Things That May Devalue Your Antique Table

If your antique table looks as though it may have been repaired over the years, it will not be as valuable as a piece that is similar that comes in perfect condition. Signs of repair include pieces of wood that have been used to support structure, as well as screws and other fittings that have been used to hold original pieces in place. It is advisable to avoid repairing your table and its structure in any way, until you have spoken to a specialist who can let you know whether doing so will devalue it. If wood worm has set in, or other forms of rot, this too will devalue the table. Before making a diagnosis yourself, it is important to ask an expert to confirm. While it is expected that many antique tables will have experienced some disrepair, too much may prevent a table from being as valuable as you would hope. The odd scratch or fraying piece of fabric may not have too much of an effect, but severe damage will.

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