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Learn about tips and tricks to help you avoid buying a fake or imitation antique.
3 Mins

How to spot a fake: Antiques

Luke Davies
Luke Davies

Antiques bring joy in so many ways, the searching, the discovery, learning the history of the item and of course, the way they look.
Nothing is more disappointing however than falling in love with the item you wanted only to learn it isn't what it claims to be.
There are a few things you can do to try and minimise the risks of buying an antique imposter and make those purchases less daunting.

Be ageist:
This is the one time that ageism is acceptable, antiques are old and so are the methods used to create them. An old piece won't have the precision of a machine built item, and that is why we love them. Their character is what makes them unique. Let's use chairs as an example. Hand-carved wooden chairs are often rough, run your hand along the underside of the chair and get the feel. Wood wan not machine cut before 1860 so you already have a good idea of the likely age of the item. Next, let's check the weight; older chairs are known to be significantly heavier than there more modern counterparts. These are great signs of an aged item and at least give you some idea of what you may be purchasing.

On your marks, get set, go!
Of course, there were many pieces of furniture made; posh people weren't the only ones who sat on chairs. What you are looking for is a makers mark. These were reserved for the finest pieces and can be a fantastic indicator that what you are buying is the real deal.

Check the patina:
Patina is the worn look achieved over time from years of love and use. Watch out for falsely added patina often done with an antiquing solution or layered coats of paint. The authentic patina should result in a warm and variable surface.

The price is right!
Big bucks do not confirm that the item is a legitimate antique, but a super low price is often too good to be true. Utilise the resources you have at hand to do some on the spot research. These days we have a fantastic tool at our disposal, our smartphones. Jump on to the almighty Google and search for information on similar pieces, see if the price is in the same ballpark. Online auction sites can be a great reference point for just that!

Of course, you can swan around local antique stores looking for something that catches your eye, but it is better to have an idea of what is what. Take some time to research the antique world and get a feel for what you like. Try to get a knowledge of prices for similar items and learn what signs to look out for that help you spy an imitation. There are a wealth of resources on the internet, so put on your sleuthing hat and start searching.

With all that in mind:
With all your knowledge, imitation spotting techniques and more, there is one final thing you should never forget, falling in love with a piece.
If you see something that just draws you to it and it is a price you are happy paying, then it is the item for you. Sometimes antiques choose their owners and not the other way round. Trust your gut, and if you have done some research beforehand, your gut will probably be pretty trustworthy.

Discover Art, antiques and collectables in auction now and find something to fall in love with.