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Some popular antiques are quite well documented and may be tied to a specific time period in history making an age determination quite simple. Adding to the complexity is the proliferation of copycat builders and modern furniture craftsmen who do an admirable job of cloning authentic antique furniture right down to the tool marks and date stamps.
Determining the age of antique furniture is the first step in establishing a proper valuation, as well as verifying that the piece is indeed an authentic furnishing from the era in question.
Modern upholstered chairs may feature a tag listing both manufacturer and serial number or design name, which can be looked up on the manufacturer's website or on collector websites.
Mass-produced chairs from the 19th century to modern times are often stamped with a manufacturer's mark.
If rough surfaces, plane scrapes, and tool marks are evident inside the piece of furniture, or on the back or bottom surfaces, you're probably looking at a pre-1860 model.
This is one of the easiest ways to provide a fairly accurate date stamp to any antique.
Smaller “matching” elements, such as wooden drawer knobs, chair spindles, or feet on a variety of objects, may have slight differences in the shape if they were hand crafted prior to 1860 or so.
Machine made furniture produced largely after 1860 will have components that match more perfectly than those made by hand. It’s almost impossible to make the same exact furniture element over and over identically without the use of machinery.
When hand planes were used to smooth woods, they more often than not left some sort of uneven surface.
Chairs as we know them have been around since at least the 1700s.
Before that, the chair was essentially a stool with a back, and only the head of the house or the upper echelon of society sat in them. The chair has evolved greatly since that time, with numerous styles and materials from which to choose.