Some are often left wondering why antiques are such highly valued pieces. What makes a table crafted from the sturdiest mahogany tree any different from those made from laminates and veneers? The answer may be obvious to a few people, but not all are aware of an antique’s real worth.
What Is An Antique?
The term antique is used rather loosely by the masses and often ends up reflecting the age of a person. To a teenager, for example, a cellular device from the late 1990s seems “antique,” while an adult might see antiques as the furniture or decorative piece they saw in the homes of their grandparents as a child.
In the simplest of terms, however, and according to the official definition issued by the United States Customs Service, antiques are collectibles that are at least 100 years old. They are valuable objects that represent a previous era or period in human society.
What Makes An Antique Expensive?
Things may slide in and out of fashion, but antiques are timeless. The answer to the question, “Why are antiques expensive?” may seem obvious at this point, but here is an in-depth write-up on why antique furniture is upscale in value. When you find an antique that meets these five criteria, you probably found something that’s already highly regarded and is likely to increase in value with age.
Many collectors have unique treasures in their collection. Some will have sentimental value or an emotional story attached to them, while others will be prized for their rarity. If an item is hard to get hold of, or better yet, if no one else has anything like it, then it’s almost certainly unique and has a higher value than similar mass-produced items.
How does one know if an item is rare? Here are a few of the attributes of a unique piece.
- It’s one of a kind. If an item pales in comparison to others and possesses intricate designs that are incomparable, it may be something special. A one of a kind item is so difficult to come by that collectors go all out at auctions and antique stores just to get a hold of it.
- It’s a remainder of an extensive collection. Some functional and highly delicate antiques were manufactured in large batches, but have become scarce through the years. Valuable pieces such as tea sets, crystal stemware, and porcelain dishes are examples of fine antiques.
- It has an unusual size or shape. Some antiques are shaped unusually or have morphed into different shapes through years of use. Some examples of rarity include silver stuffing spoons used for stuffing a turkey, or marrow spoons used for scooping the marrow out of bones.
It can be difficult to tell if an item is real or merely a duplicate of the original. Distinguishing truth from fiction is part of the mystery and fun behind antiques. As technology and the ability to reproduce items become more advanced, identifying authentic pieces has become more difficult. Here are a few of the characteristics of an authentic piece.
Age. A decorative piece or furniture may look ancient, but there’s a possibility of it being built just a week ago. It’s relatively easy for masters of carpentry to recycle old wood and create a new piece of furniture.
Material. Copper and spelter are the impersonators of gold and bronze. Their real enemy is perspiration since natural body acids cause coppers and smelters to corrode on the surface of the metal, allowing their true colors to show. It’s also important to remember that gold and bronze colors can now come out of a spray bottle. Unlike the real deal, imitations can deteriorate as soon as you use them.
If the demand is high, people will pay top dollar to acquire a piece. In this technology-engulfed period, figuring out an item’s desirability is as easy as going online. Seeing how well particular antique costs and how much it sells at auctions is possible with a click of a button.
A perfect example of a popular antique is wisteria lamps made by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Each of his lamps contained hundreds of tiny glass pieces, and the process to complete one was extremely time-consuming. Because of its handmade attribute and unparalleled intricacy, people rave about its beauty and covet the artistry behind it.
An object’s aesthetic value is often a matter of personal taste, but some pieces of art and furniture have universal aesthetic appeal. Italian Majolica Pilgrim Bottles, known for their beauty and charm, are great examples of aesthetically pleasing rarities. Visiting art galleries and museums is another great way to see antiques that are considered aesthetically pleasing.
In an ideal world, antique furniture would always be in mint condition. But people often forget that antiques have been around longer than we have, thus, the few imperfections that give them character. The following terms are commonly used to rate an antique according to its condition.
- Mint condition. For furniture, mint condition implies that it suffered no repairs or missing pieces. It has no chips, cracks, and has its original finish.
- Excellent condition. This condition imposes the probability of having repairs and restorations to maintain the item. An antique is still in excellent condition if the repair of chips and cracks on a wooden furniture are flawlessly untraceable.
- Good condition. This condition implies that an item has gone through quite a bit and had a few battle scars to prove otherwise.
- Damage affects the value of antique furniture in a variety of ways. A minor chip or crack on a 150-year-old mahogany table can significantly decrease its value. Anytime an antique sustains damage, its value depletes; but flawless repairs can often increase the market appeal of a rare, authentic, and desirable piece.
Owning an antique gives the buyer a feeling of being part of history. Having something that withstood the test of time and has been around for generations is remarkable. Understandably, antiques are very expensive because of their distinctive characteristics.