What exactly is an antique? According to the U.S. Government, an object must be at least 100 years old to be classified as an antique. The decision was made in 1930, and since that time, most experts have defined antiques as items produced before 1830. There is a reason to why they chose that date; it wasn’t arbitrary. The Industrial Revolution came to America in the early 19th century and forever changed the way household items were made. Machine-based manufacturing quickly replaced craftsmen as the primary means of production.
What’s The Difference?
One of the reasons why antique items are so desirable is that they were made by hand. Skilled artisans who spend their formative years working as apprentices produced these goods only after they had become masters. A machine cannot possibly match the quality of work of a true artist. All it can do is increase speed and improve efficiency.
What is Antique Reproduction Furniture?
Because of the high labor costs, most modern furniture makers do not produce objects by hand. There are a few rare exceptions. The Amish from Pennsylvania Dutch Country still produce and sell handcrafted items as their ancestors did. Of course, these are not considered period pieces because they are made in modern times.
As the name implies, antique reproductions are copies of famous or revered furniture from the past. Because the work is often quite intricate, most duplicates are built by hand and sold at furniture stores. Skilled artisans craft each piece using many of the same tools and techniques of the old-world masters.
What’s The Appeal?
Period pieces are far more than just ancient or old objects. As we mentioned, the craftsmen of the past were highly-skilled artists. And like other artists, their work can be quite valuable. As a result, handmade period pieces are far more expensive than modern, machine-made items. Reproductions, on the other hand, are somewhere in the middle. They are not nearly as valuable as the furnishings they replicate, but because reproductions are often handmade, they are pricier than comparable machine-made items.
Bed frames, chests of drawers, etageres, escritoires, and table and chair sets are wildly popular in the reproduction industry. Each item captures a different period or style in furniture history. There are Baroque, Colonial, Elizabethan, Neo Classic, and Victorian pieces, just to name a few. The price of these objects generally depends on where they were produced and how much time was spent on them. As you might imagine, artisans use different tools and techniques when they produce items from different periods in history.
Shopping for antique duplicates at furniture stores can be risky. Because some sellers can’t tell the difference between machine-made and handmade items, they often mislabel these objects. They might sell them as reproductions when they are actually mass-produced, or vice versa. Here’s how to tell the difference.
Because they are typically built by hand, most duplicates have inconsistencies. The easiest way to spot them is to run your fingers along any carved edge. If the object was machine made, the edge should be smooth and symmetrical. But if the piece was handcrafted, it should be a bit bumpy, uneven, and even asymmetrical.