Hemswell Antique Centres

How can we help?

The Joy of Antique Cabinets & How to Spot a Valuable Example

antique cabinet with glass


Our ancestors storage and display needs were always met with grandeur. Despite being some of the most expensive furniture ever made, many antique cabinets can be found at affordable prices. Wonderfully varied, you could land upon chunky antique shop display cabinets at an auction one day followed by a slinky pair of antique bedside cabinets the next.

Antique cabinets primarily designed to store precious belongings and documents in 17th-century Britain. They soon became prized objects to display in their own right, decorated to the max and given as gifts by and to the wealthy. Luxurious pieces often hail from Holland and Italy, inset with semi precious gemstones or mounted with opulent bronze figures.

Don’t be under the illusion that antique cabinets are attainable by all budgets - many examples in top condition still fetch more than £10,000 at auction. Still, well-presented restored pieces can be found for half that price. Here’s what to look for on your hunt for antique cabinets for sale:

Antique display cabinets

The most common antique display cabinets for sale are mahogany pieces from the 19th century. They’ll mostly be plain and in Chippendale-style, with blind-fret carving on the legs and a frieze with a moulding on the top of the cabinet. These mahogany Chippendale or Sheraton-style cabinets can go for as much as £3,000.

The rarest antique display cabinets are those from the 1730s and 40s in Palladian style, with glazed doors and separate compartments - as well as the Chippendale and Sheraton versions of them. Edwardian cabinets in satinwood are often sold for £3,000 to £4,000, while equally common Dutch pieces from the mid-18th to mid-19th century can fetch between £5,000 and £10,000 (sometimes more). These cabinets feature arched, glazed upper sections, moulded cornices and drawers lower down.

Glazed antique French cabinets dating back to the 18th century (also known as vitrines) are hard to find, but you might come across a 19th-century reproduction. If you do, you’re looking at a price range from £5,000 to £10,000 for a large piece, especially if it’s stamped by a maker such as Linke or Sormani.

Antique corner cabinets

As well as being fabulously practical for space-saving, corner cabinets are beautifully crafted. The most expensive types are floor-standing antique pine cabinets in Neoclassical designs and can reach up to £2,000 at auction. The earliest antique corner cabinets for sale regularly are from the Georgian era. Look out for flat fronts (often bowed) and graduated shelves. Typical examples can go for £200-£400, but find a red or green lacquered version and you could fetch £1,000.

Antique drinks cabinets

Raising the bar in the antique drinks cabinet world are Art Nouveau designs heading towards the 20th century. Blending functionality and glamour, stylish antique cocktail cabinets for sale can be found for £500 to £1,000. Art Deco designs can be nabbed without going over £500, although luxurious materials command higher prices.

Antique bedside cabinets

A genuine pair of antique bedside cabinets are still hard to find (unless you know where to look). True pairs were designed with doors hinged on different sides, in order for them to be opened away from the bed. You’re more likely to find pairs of antique French cabinets for bedsides than English or Australian (which were only made as single pieces).

Antique filing cabinets

Used to store letters and notes, antique filing cabinets range in size, design and value. Some are tall and vertical with small pigeon holes for mail or medicines (antique apothecary cabinets), while others are wide and chunky, with heavy drawers for catalogues and large volumes of letters, invoices, price lists etc. Antique filing cabinets for sale are often made from wood or metal - identifying the exact material will give you a helping hand when determining the value of an antique cabinet.

Antique music cabinets and canterburies

Antique music cabinets (used to store sheets of music) are now often used to display magazines and newspapers. They appeared in the Edwardian era in mahogany veneer with glazed doors and you can buy them for £100 to £300. Just before they came about, canterburies were all the rage. Low and partitioned, most date back to the late 18th-century, often in walnut with open fretwork. Earlier pieces are simple and elegant, while later examples are a lot fancier and often have X-framed dividers and a shelf on the highest section.

Where to find antique cabinets for sale

From fine investments to nifty little finds, our range of antique cabinets for sale offers something for every kind of collector. Wander round our centres and you’ll soon see why these impressive forms of furniture were some of the most prized possessions since the 17th century.

Back to articles