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What is my antique furniture worth? Five tips to determine value

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True collectors have a genuine love of the objects they gather. The pleasure that can derive from a rickety 18th-century rocking chair, teacup with a thousand stories or a tinkly old music box is beyond measure. At Hemswell Antiques, our dealers and collectors spend a huge amount of time trawling for bargains, riding a wave of euphoria every time, they strike gold.

Anyone with a love of antiques knows that investment potential is not the overriding factor in a purchase - but it doesn’t mean it’s not all part of the excitement. If you’re in possession of a joyful item, curiously wondering ‘‘what is my antique furniture worth?’, these eight handy tips should help your collector’s eyes mature and turn your passion into profit.

1. Examine the furniture first

‘Is my furniture antique?’ is often the initial question on the lips of owner’s of curious pieces. The best step to take first is to make a thorough assessment of the furniture in question. What type of furniture is it? Seating? Storage? Then look at the materials used, making a note of any patinas (a prized characteristic which will boost value). Does it have any damage such as scratches, dents, cracks, or markings? If so read our guide to cleaning antique furniture. Scan the piece for any labels or maker’s marks, as well as any previous repairs to the furniture that may be present. Write it all down - it’s going to come in handy when you take your next steps.

2. Identify the wood

The wood used in antique furniture will usually give you your first clue into the value of it. Everyday furniture was often made from native timbers such as ash, beech, yew, elm and fruitwoods (such as apple and cherry) whereas higher valued pieces are specific woods during specific eras. There’s the ‘Age of Oak’, mainly between the 16th and 17th centuries, followed by ages of walnut, mahogany and then satinwood. 

3. Look for guides showcasing similar antique furniture values

Libraries, bookshops and of course, the internet are rammed with publications asking the question ‘what is my antique furniture worth?’. Books are a brilliant starting point, since they offer a broad overview of antique furniture values and can set you on the right path to valuation. The web is a treasure trove of advice: our own antique blog is packed with everything from guides to selling antique wardrobes to the values of antique drawers from different centuries. 

4. Learn leading designers of antique furniture

The superior techniques of master craftsmen spans over centuries, so getting your head around the key figures is important to understanding values. Much mid-18th century antique furniture was largely dominated by the work of Thomas Chippendale and the eminent cabinet-maker’s work can reach six-figure sums. For example, a set of eight loop-back Victorian Chippendale chairs can fetch up to £10,000. 

5. Ask a reputable dealer

Antique furniture holds its value over centuries - unlike modern reproductions - and dealers are a fountain of knowledge as to what this value is. As a centre we do not buy items in or give valuations. However, we do have our exclusive Dealer Portal for the public to sell antique items to our dealers. This carries an administrative fee of £12 per item. Please email enquiries@hemswell-antiques.com for more information. Our dealers will view your items and contact you directly if they’re interested. Always approach dealers from a reputable trade body with years of studying antique furniture under their belt - they should advise you honestly and stand by their word. 

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