Tips on how to choose the best vintage furniture today
Check out the quality: Whether you buy an armchair which is of Victorian or Eastlake era, you certainly need to check its quality. Just like it is today, you will find furniture that is of low quality while there is a variety that is made using the best technology and craftsmanship. Check whether the materials used are of the best quality. Just because a furniture item is old doesn’t mean it’s of the best quality.
The general form is more important: You might be scared when you discover that the antique that you intend to buy has scratches and small cracks. Because the item you are buying is old, you should beware of the fact that it has had to weather the time and the climate for the past years it has been in existence. Moreover, there are countless products in South Africa which have been designed and manufactured to remove all those small scratches and cracks. It should not be a big deal to you when you find small defects which can be sorted out easily. If you are new to the acquisition of antique furniture, you can learn a lot if you use the services of a professional.
Lesser known brands are better: Even today, a brand that is highly rated goes at a very high price. After so many years, the brand will still be rated highly unlike those that were a little bit less popular and whose price over time lowers considerably. When out shopping for an antique chair or table, check out those that are not regarded as top brands. To help you make the right decision, you should study a little bit about antiques. This way, you stand a better chance evaluating and picking a unique item that will serve you astoundingly.
The bones of the furniture are important: A drawer has rails and legs or a table has legs and a frame. This is what we call bones. If you buy an antique whose form is squeaky and whose strength is doubtful, you might discover that you bought a pile of firewood once you reach home. Check the bones or all the important frame joints that make the item stand strong. You can overlook a small plywood chipping but you can’t afford to overlook a broken leg of a dressing table.
Bargain: The seller knows the best price they can get for item. In many cases, the true financial value of antique furniture is considerably low. However, due to the value the owner has attached to the item, the value goes high, sometimes unbelievably high. As a resourceful and well informed antique buyer, you should be able to spot all the defects that such an item carries. Use all the defects to bargain for a better deal. Of course make sure that defects that you are willing to ignore when buying the item can be fixed.
Buy complimenting items where possible: The owner of the antique furniture that you are set to buy invested in making their homes beautiful and full of glamour. As such, they never bought scattered items which never complemented each other. They probably bought a bed which was accompanied by a side drawer and dressing table. A dining table was accompanied by matching dining chairs and so on. So when you are buying, check for the items that match or complement each other as there is no other place that you can find the part that you didn’t buy.
Gentle hands on the furniture: Over the years, you have probably seen people who are very rough with their way of handling things including furniture. It is no different with furniture and earlier decades. When buying vintage furniture in South Africa, check out those items which have had gentle hands on them. You can tell how roughly an item has been handled by the scratches, cracks, breakages and general wear that it has.
Identify a place that sells good stuff: Least but not least is the need for you to identify a spot where antique furniture is sold in South Africa. By making frequent visits to several garages, flea markets and auction yards or anywhere else such old household are sold, you easily identify a place which sells what you desire and love. Make friends with the sales people in such joints so that they can tip you on when their next sale even will be.
Timelines of antique furniture in South Africa
In order to understand fully what you are buying when you head out to an antique furniture flea market or auction, you need to know a little bit more about the items and the antiques in general. A good guide to knowing what to pick is to know the different timelines that furniture which is considered antique is given. The timelines are classified into over 20 categories starting from 1940s and going back all the way to late 1600s.
Art Deco - 1920–1945: In this era, furniture had straight fine lines which happens to have been the trend even for structures. People in this era had started to develop a sophisticated taste for expensive materials. Among the materials used included lacquered furniture, glass, steel and veneers. This is the era that gave birth to the current style of furniture.
Art Nouveau – 1896–1914: In this era, the making of furniture tended to be somewhat tedious and expensive for manufacturers. The main identifying feature of furniture in this era was the use of long sweeping lines. This was an attempt to marry the female sweeping nouveau design in clothing, jewelry and hair into furniture. Unfortunately, this art did not become popular across the Atlantic Ocean from France. You however can still find such antique furniture in SA.
Art Furniture – 1880–1914: This is an era when everything in any carpenter’s or designer’s mind was put to practice. It is during this period that you would find furniture with straight lines and at the same time curvy lines. Older designs such as Victorian and Eastlake and even oriental features could be prominently found in this time’s furniture. Key features are straight legs and the feet are small.
Eastlake Era – 1870–1890: This era mainly got its name from the author of ‘Hints on Household Tastes’ – Mr. C. Eastlake. There was quite a focus on ornamentation of furniture which included brackets, geometric and chamfers designs. The incorporation of craftsmanship, form and functionality of furniture was focused on.
Naturalistic Era – 1850–1914: Technology was one of the drivers in this era. Manufacturers were able to fully embrace the use of technology to increase flowers and more so leaves in the different types of furniture they made. They were easily able to advance on the Rococo art and glue different types of wood pieces together. There is such provenance in the antique furniture of this era as some even bear engraved names of the manufacturers then.
Elizabethan – 1850–1915: These furniture items, which can still be found in some South Africa antique selling spots, trace their roots to the Victorian era. In fact, some sources attribute the success of the Elizabethan era to the Victorian era. It was propagated more by the female biased furniture makers of the day. In this era, technology had already advanced to allow the makers to add flowers and flowers to the furniture. Decorations were easy and you can still trace the groves made on the piece of furniture.
Victorian – 1830–1890: England’s Queen Victoria is the one who influenced the naming of the antique furniture made during this time. So great was her influence that almost everything that was made or invented during her reign in most of the world is categorized as Victorian. The furniture made in this era tends to be heavy and stocky.
There are great antique furniture found all over Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Johannesburg and major cities of South Africa. Over the years, diverse people from different parts of the world made unique furniture that have come to be referred to as antique today. It would be unjust to go out shopping for the listed antiques or those that are affiliated to England as every other corner of the globe has its own unique antique. Visit the shops and discover the diverse and amazing occidental and oriental antique furniture today.