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Examine these parts carefully; slight differences in size or shape are not always easy to spot.A real antique is very rarely perfectly cut; a reproduction with the same components will be because a machine will have cut it. Until Victorian times, shellac was the only clear surface finish; lacquer and varnish were not developed until the mid-1800s.A lacquer or varnish finish is a sure sign of later manufacture.Testing a finish isn’t always possible in a dealer’s showroom, but if you can manage it, identify the finish before you buy.
On handmade furniture, rungs, slats, spindles, rockers, and other small-diameter components are not uniform.Get an expert opinion: A trained eye is more likely to find an undervalued treasure (or a clever fake) than a novice ever would.Use the press and stay informed about current trends and potential scams in the antique trade by consulting popular and highly regarded antique trade publications.If the piece has drawers, remove a drawer and look carefully where the front and back of the drawer are fastened to the sides of the drawer.
If a joint was dovetailed by hand, it has only a few dovetails, and they are not exactly even; if it has closely spaced, precisely cut dovetails, it was machine-cut.
American furniture styles have seen a significant number of style periods since the early Colonial era, with each period being to some degree influenced by the pieces being built in Europe (generally England and France).