Vintage Furniture or more importantly, our love of Vintage Retro Antique Furniture is the reason we got involved in the industry back in 2007 - oh if you didn't realise, we have been in this game for quite a while and have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience which we would like to share with you.
We will try to break this page down into sections which will allow you to gain an insight into what makes us buy the things we buy, how we identify Vintage Furniture and some tips on selling it - after all the majority of our customers resell our products at a profit!
What are the British Furniture Periods?
Hey us Brits are good at compartmentalising things, and identifying furniture ages as you can guess is all centred around our Monarchy - take these periods right upto the end of King Edward VII
1558-1603 – Elizabeth I – Elizabethan Furniture
1603-1625 – James I – Jacobean Furniture
1625-1649 – Charles I – Carolean Furniture
1649-1660 – Commonwealth – Cromwellian Furniture
1660-1685 – Charles II – Restoration Furniture
1685-1689 – James II – Restoration Furniture
1689-1694 – William & Mary – William & Mary Furniture
1694-1702 – William III – William III Furniture
1702-1714 – Anne – Queen Anne Furniture
1714-1727 – George I – Early Georgian Furniture
1727-1760 – George II – Early Georgian Furniture
1760-1800 – George III – Late Georgian Furniture
1800-1820 – George III – Regency Furniture
1820-1830 – George IV – Regency Furniture
1830-1837 – William IV – William IV Furniture
1837-1901 – Victoria – Victorian Furniture
1901-1910 – Edward VII – Edwardian Furniture
What is Vintage Furniture?
I guess this all depends on who you ask. You see if you believe everything you read on eBay or some of the self professed and sometimes over enthusiastic sellers, Vintage Furniture can be used to describe a piece of furniture bought a few years ago - mainly because the piece may have the look of an older piece - when in reality it came out of a Furniture Factory in Guangdong but they use the term to help shift stock as it's somewhat of a buzzword now.
"Vintage" is a colloquialism commonly used to refer to all old styles of clothing of between 30 - 50 years old, however over the years and with the sudden rise of the trendy set and their hipster clothing, home brewed ales and artisan bakery products - we now use the Vintage Furniture term to describe any older furniture so the term is somewhat blurred. Unlike Antique Furniture where the industry standard is at least 100 years old, Vintage Furniture tends to be from about 1920-1950. In reality if you are my age (1970's), it's the furniture your Nana had at home thats was passed to your parents when she got sick of looking at it, then you had to endure it untill you promised your parents you would stop drawing on the sideboard!
Ok now I'm confused, what's Mid Century Furniture or Retro Furniture?
You're confused, you should try writing this!
Mid-century modern (MCM) Vintage Furniture is an American design movement in interior, product, graphic design, architecture, and urban development that was popular from roughly 1945 to 1969 - The term was used descriptively as early as the mid-1950s and was defined as a design movement by Cara Greenberg in her 1984 book Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s. It is now recognized by scholars and museums worldwide as a significant design movement. Relating this to the UK market we use the terms Mid Century and Retro Vintage Furniture for this period - this is the stuff which is currently in your parents house if they were trendy in the late 1960-1970's - just as I was brought into the world - in fact I remember a significant fall from a Vintage Furniture Teak E Gomme Sideboard which hurt like hell!
The world is obsessed with Mid Century Retro Vintage Furniture at the moment as this was the period UK furniture manufacturers turned to Danish designers to help funk up the ever boring furniture market. Just google this period and you will see designers such as Hans Wegner who was famous for the iconic Peacock Chairs, Frits Henningsen who used exotic woods to copy early British designs with a modern twist, Finn Juhl who was famous for the Glove Cabinet - a design which is copied still to this day, Arne Vodder who experimented with Rosewood and vibrant colours to make icons pieces, Børge Mogensen who played with simple designs which are as popular now as they were back in the 1950's, Arne Jacobsen who is famed for the ever popular and eye waveringly expensive Egg Chairs - designs which are still going strong today, Ib Kofod-Larsen who was the designer of the well known Elizabeth Chair
How to identify if its a genuine?
Type of Wood Used
The wood furniture is made from can provide a significant amount of information to distinguish between an antique and reproduction. Early Furniture Makers would always use different woods on the backs and bottoms (the parts you can't see) so it wasn't uncommon for a Mahogany Chest of Drawers to have Pine bottoms and backs. If you can see ply or chipboard - run!
Condition of the Wood
A few signs that furniture is newer include consistent color, lack of patina, machine-cut moldings/carvings, and modern screws or nails. Things like mortise-and-tenon joints, wood pegs, hand-cut dovetails, and rose head nails are typically found in antique furniture. However, keep in mind that manufacturers may use older nails or wood in a reproduction to make the piece look like an antique.
Wooden furniture shows signs of age through shrinkage of the wood, splits, and seam separation. Wood shrinks across the grain—but not with it—so an antique circular table will not have a perfectly round shape. If it does, it’s likely a reproduction or someone replaced the tabletop.
The veneer of an antique and reproduction may also vary. Since about 1900, veneers have become thinner. The earlier furniture makers utilized wider boards with the thicker veneer.
The materials used in upholstery were natural until the 1920s when synthetic fibres first made an appearance. You will typically find an antique with original upholstery stuffed with horsehair and other natural material.
Signs of Wear and Age: Are They Real or Fake?
While reproductions are often made to look older than they are, you can still see the differences between the looks of aging. Reproductions tend to have consistent signs of wear. Authentic antiques, on the other hand, will have varying degrees of wear due to years of use. For example, the underside of a chair arm should not look like it has the same level of wear as the area where your hands typically rest. Another place to look for signs of wear is under the feet. Drawer runners should also be showing signs of age from the drawers being opened many times.
Asymmetry & Irregularity
Antique pieces aren’t going to be perfectly symmetrical because they were made by hand rather than with machines; slight changes in size or shape will help you know that the piece was handmade. Carvings aren’t going to be perfectly symmetrical either; craftsmanship done by hand will have some imperfections. While irregularity isn’t normally considered to be a good sign, it’s a key factor for antiques. Dovetail joints and older screws do not have a perfect shape when they’ve been made by hand for an antique piece. If a dovetail joint has perfect lines and edges, the piece is more than likely made by a machine. Antique furniture made with hand planes, saws, and chisels will have surfaces that are going to feel slightly uneven while the surfaces of more recently made furniture will be smoother.
We hope you found this page useful and you can use it to further indulge yourself in the love of Antique Furniture