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Consider practical matters Carefully: Always check the size and weight of any piece of antique furniture that interests you. To reduce these costs, search in local antique dealers and check other sellers who will provide a complete wrap and ship service.

The first aspect is the joinery; machine-cut furniture was not produced until about 1860.

Establish value: Many collectors prefer particular eras, styles, and makers, while others have more eclectic tastes.

In either case, an authentic item’s value is influenced and based on its condition, rarity, and history.

The date letters below show the background shape for silver.

The same letters were used for Gold, which has been marked in Birmingham since 1824, but with a background of a square with cut corners.

If the piece has drawers, remove a drawer and look carefully where the front and back of the drawer are fastened to the sides of the drawer.

If a joint was dovetailed by hand, it has only a few dovetails, and they are not exactly even; if it has closely spaced, precisely cut dovetails, it was machine-cut.

Many vintage furniture buyers opt for quality reproductions that are more affordable, and either option is fine providing that you research your subject well when identifying antique furniture.

If the piece of furniture is dirty or encrusted with wax, clean it first with a mixture of denatured alcohol, white vinegar, and kerosene, in equal parts. Very early furniture, from the Middle Ages until the beginning of the eighteenth century, is mostly oak, but since the end of the seventeenth century, other woods as walnut and mahogany became the preferred choice among the cabinet makers.

Around the 1670s they came to recognise the better properties of the walnut, which dense grain allowed for lighter and finer shapes of the furniture, and quickly turned into a most fashionable material.

If it has only a few dovetail joints, with pins narrower than the dovetails, then the joint was made by hand.

Look carefully at the bottom, sides, and back of the drawer; if the wood shows nicks or cuts, it was probably cut with a plane, a spokeshave, or a drawknife. If the wood shows circular or arc-shaped marks, it was cut by a circular saw, not in use until about 1860.

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