Treasure Detectives

How to spot a fake: Furniture

According to CNBC "Treasure Detectives" art forgery expert Curtis Dowling, furniture is one of the most faked things of all time.

In the eras before the current disposable culture, when a piece of furniture became no longer desired, it most likely would have been turned into some other useful item

When evaluating a collectible item, consider that furniture makers were experts in their day, so anything indicating otherwise is likely a clue that something is off. Which way are the grains going? Are the drawer runners right for the period? What does the wood look like inside the piece? Is it original or is this item a pastiche of different woods?

While sometimes it could be decorative, furniture was generally used. Look for patina, for traces of dust and dirt. If there are none, if the item is a little too perfect, this might be newer than you are being led to believe. An article by Aardvark Antiques and Estate Liquidators says this is the more likely scenario than an out-and-out fake, due to the amount of skill and expense required to craft an impersonator.

Dowling advises to keep an eye out for handmade screws, which were the norm before the mass production of screws began in 1846. Aardvark's Charles Pharr Jr. also advised to look at the oxidation on the wood from the screws and other hardware. Knowledge of hinges can reveal a lot about furniture age.

Learn when woods were in and out of vogue in different periods and locations, from walnut to oak to maple. And finally, look out for inconsistencies. Look for elements too modern for the stated age of the piece, such as plywood or particle board.

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