Antique Furniture Illustration
Illustration of Antique Furniture

Antique Furniture
Over the years I have collected a few old books and magazines related to furniture. These books are now in the public domain so I plan to share some of the more interesting and informative content here on Antique Furniture.US. Such as the furniture descriptions and images contained in my copy of the antique 1902 Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalogue No. 112 that I own. I also have a large selection of antique FRA magazines which contain Roycroft furniture pictures and ads that I plan to upload. I will also be adding additional Berkey & Gay Furniture Co. ads from these FRA magazines on as time allows.

Definition of Antique and Furniture
From Laird & Lee's Webster's New Standard Dictionary Copright 1908. I found the following concerning the word antique: "Ancient, old fashioned, anything very old." for the word furniture: "Moveables, either for use or ornament, with which a house is equiped". New Dictionary of the English Language 1925 Edition lists antique as: "Belonging to a former age, ancient, something of great age." and furniture as: "Necessary equipments of a house, ship or a trade".

Antique Furniture Warning
The craze for second-hand or antique furniture is, on the whole, rather absurd. Very few persons indeed are able to distinguish a real antique from an imitation. Dealers in these goods may not only willfully deceive, but are often deceived themselves by persons who have so-called antiques, manufactured in America, shipped abroad and re-shipped to this country. The wood is not infrequently given the appearance of age by being buried in the ground, eaten with acids, or riddled with fine shot in imitation of worm holes.

Even the cloth or leather in which the goods are upholstered may be given the effect of wear by mechanical means, and the whole may be placed on the market by fraud in such a way as to suggest that the articles are heirlooms.

Modern furniture, made on the same models, can be obtained at much lower prices, and is much more satisfactory than these supposed antiques. But, as a rule, antique pieces are not desirable unless a room can be furnished with them and can have all its appointments in harmony with the antique style.

The above 1908 Antique Furniture Warning was printed in "Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis's Cook Book".

So How Old Is Antique Furniture
In the early 1970's when I first started buying Turn of the Century Oak Furniture manufactured in the early 1900's. This early 1900's furniture wasn't considered antique by most of the purest involved in the antique trade! The purest held the belief that for funiture to be considered antique that it should be at least 100 years old! Some antique dealers in my area even considered late 1800's Victorian furniture beneath them and that it was simply used furniture. This was especially true of the Eastlake pieces of furniture from the 1880 - 1890's era.

During the mid 1990's I started hauling 1920's - 1950's American mahogany and walnut furniture from the Midwest to the Metro Atlanta area for sale at auction. At that time much of this furniture was hardly 50 years old! To promote these pieces of furniture I took the liberty of advertising them as antique furniture. Even going so far as to build this website to feature these pieces of "antique furniture" on the internet. Today the words "antique furniture" are often used to describe ancient, aged, collectible, obsolete, old, period, primitive, reproduction, rustic, shabby, used or vintage furniture. With some businesses even going so far as to promote the sale of new furniture using the words "antique furniture".

So what is the age that a piece of furniture must obtain to legally be considered antique? "On December 8, 1993, Title VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057), also known as the Customs Modernization or “Mod” Act, became effective. Antiques are classified under heading 9706. In order to qualify as an antique for CBP purposes, the article must be over 100 years of age at the time of importation. Provided they retain their original character, the heading includes antique articles that have been repaired or restored. For example, the heading includes antique furniture incorporating parts of modern manufacture. However, if the essential character is changed, or more than 50% of the item has been repaired or restored, the item is no longer considered an antique and is subject to duty."

Antique Furniture Knowledge
From the Preface to "How to Know Period Styles in Furniture" Copyright 1912 by W. L. Kimerly. "A knowlege of period styles in furniture is as necessary to those who would properly furnish a home as a knowledge of grammer is to those who would speak correctly."

When I first started picking antique furniture in the 1970's for resale. I purchased every reference book related to antique furniture that I could find in an effort to learn as much as possible about old furniture. Today with the growth of the internet much of the information contained in those books is now available online in one form or another. One of my reference books an original copy of "How to Know Period Styles in Furniture" first copyrighted in 1912 is now in public domain. As such when time allows I plan to scan the book and feature parts of it here on Antique Furniture.US. A 2010 reprint is currently available at Amazon for anyone interested in learning about early furniture styles.

Author: John Reinhart

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