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Pricing Of Antiques
From time to time venerable items will be put on the open market, where they often carry price tags that stagger the imagination. The better specimens are, all too often, priced way beyond the purse of the average collector.
These impressive and meritorious articles are now, as they were when first made, for the wealthy. But do not despair! There were many people one hundred years or more ago who were educated to, and intellectually aware of, the artistic merit of fine furnishings; yet who were in modest financial circumstances, even as you and I. These people were able to furnish their homes in excellent fashion.
Even when simplicity was substituted for the elegance of the higher-priced articles, it was without loss of beauty or of craftsmanship, for these antiques are every bit as lovely as the more elaborate ones.
The difference sometimes was in the wood used. Instead of the expensive imported mahogany, local cabinetmakers used native woods. Some connoisseurs prefer mahogany, yet there is a latent spark of patriotism in all of us which points out, truthfully, that our Yankee know-how was able to produce articles just as fine, and in some instances (such as block fronts and Philadelphia-style highboys) even superior to anything imported. This is why many actually prefer their furniture to be all American, even down to the use of native woods.
Fancy grained woods were often chosen for furniture which had no carving, in order to give the finished product a more elegant appearance. By eliminating the carving, many man-hours, and thus much expense, was saved. Where carving appears, there are varying degrees of elaborateness, the simpler being just as old and equally appropriate for your home.
Fine lacquered furniture with the original finish in good condition will be high in price; but the simpler painted items will be proportionately less, and therefore good examples will be found within your price range.
Available antique furniture ranges from the elaborately carved and inlaid to the completely unadorned; from the finest imported woods to abundant domestic products; from artistically lacquered highboys in the Chinese fashion to primitive Pennsylvania Dutch dower chests; from Sheraton fancy chairs to massproduced Hitchcock-type chairs.
An excess of surface decoration is no criterion for fine furniture. There is no need to gild the lily.
Pleasing proportions, beauty of line and shape, good construction and condition, patina, appropriate hardware, and very little restoration, if any-all these help to make an antique desirable, and all can be found in simple as well as elaborately decorated furniture.
Good taste should not be confused with elaborateness; they can, and do exist separately.
With these things in mind you can "go antiquing" with the assurance that you will be able to find fine antiques for your home despite financial limitations.
The bulk of the antiques within the lower-price range will be found mainly in Empire and Victorian styles.
Country pine furniture is also abundant, although considerable "picking over" must be done in order to find the better examples. The so-called "Primitive" or "Provincial" furniture falls into this broad classification. By selective choosing you can find many delightful examples. Since so much country furniture was made by hand in the olden ways long after mechanized production took over more sophisticated manufacturers, there is a great deal of this charmingly primitive furniture still around. Completely in accord with the casual living in modern suburban areas, this furniture is as popular today as when it was first made.
Fancy chairs were made as early as 1790 and continued in popularity over a long period of time. There were about fifty manufacturers producing fancy, painted chairs during 1810 to 1860, including the famous Lambert Hitchcock. Many reproductions have been made of these and the prospective buyer is again urged to carefully inspect before purchasing.
The always fashionable Windsor chair has been made constantly from 1725, suggesting that there still should be quite a few around. Therefore, considering the vast amount of furniture made, there is sure to be a large quantity available for today's homemakers. By discriminating selection you will find many lovely items to grace your home. Astute shopping will enable you to furnish your home attractively without having to resort to bank robbery.