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Just because you cannot afford to buy certain valuable antiques is no sound reason to deny yourself the pleasure of seeing the same exquisite forms in your home.
Copies of good furniture have been made ever since the styles were first introduced. Some of these same copies were made in the same manner as the originals although at a later date than the actual period, and are now well over a hundred years old themselves. These are not, in the general meaning of the word, reproductions, for that term denotes modern furniture made in the same styles.
In many circles, reproductions are wrongly looked down upon, for they do serve a useful purpose. Antiques are not as readily obtainable as new furniture, and there are times when you might need another chair or small table for that certain blank spot in the front hall, and not be able to find just what you want in the antique shops. Then again, since antiques were made in limited quantities, there are certain examples which are highly desirable and yet so scarce as to make the price prohibitive when they are available.
So you cannot afford to go to Paris and buy an original Dior dress. That does not mean that you cannot be well dressed; you can still go to one of the better department stores in your town and buy a copy which will be just as becoming to you. In the right color and with the correct accessories you can look just as smart (in a healthy American way) as the skinniest Parisian model. You do not feel ashamed of the copy, nor try to pretend it is an original; it becomes you, you enjoy it. There is no difference with furniture. You buy the best you can afford, arrange it comfortably, add colors which become you, your choice of accessories, and-voild! You enjoy it.
Some upholstered sofas and chairs, such as Queen Anne and Chippendale, have only the legs (and possibly stretchers) showing, while the rest of the framework is hidden from view. Most of these will require new upholstery to recover that which is badly worn, or to better suit the color scheme of your individual home. Would it not then, be wiser to order a new wing chair in the exact style you want and to put the difference in money you save towards a fine desk or chest of drawers, where you can see and enjoy the construction and mellow old wood that you are paying for? If your money is unlimited, of course you will want to buy only the best originals.
There are times when a good reproduction can be an asset to your home. Let me stress the word "good." Some furniture manufacturers make faithful copies of antiques, true to line and style, but with modern methods. Some of these are finished with the previously mentioned "distressed finish" which duplicates the tiny dents and mars of time, not to deceive the buyer, but in order to soften the newness and that just-off-the-assembly-line appearance. These will harmonize nicely with your genuine antiques and serve to beautify your home where the originals are not available. Other manufacturers toss together some woods in the semblance of furniture and call it a reproduction, even though it has been debased until it is an eyesore.
By studying the original antiques through your library and museum, you will learn to identify the desired features of the originals and thus know what to seek in reproductions. Select only those good of design, faithful to style, and sound of construction.