With the technology available today and cheap labor from many underdeveloped countries, all kinds of reproductions are available to consumers. And, like many other topics, reproductions have their good points and not-so-good points.
If one automatically assumes a negative attitude toward all reproductions, one fails to realize reproductions do have a legitimate place in the marketplace.
Sometimes an antique item that one would like to have in their home for either decoration or everyday use costs more than one can afford. In that case, finding a reproduction that costs less and appeals to you personally might be just what you want.
We have an example in our home that illustrates that point. We have a reproduction 54-inch round oak table but really can't afford one. A friend had told us about a place in Wichita that made good quality reproduction tables.
We located that place of business and found one we really liked. Also, we are able to purchase it for significantly less than a comparable antique table would have cost.
Our kids are now grown and gone, and it is still a part of our home today. Also, the occasional nicks and dings it has from the 30-plus years if use don't bother us a bit. As a matter of fact, those tiny marks bring back pleasant memories of raising our family.
However, for the purpose of this article, let us suppose that you have found what appears to be an antique piece of furniture you would like to purchase for your home. What are some points on your mental checklist that you might use to decide whether you are looking at an authentic or a good reproduction that looks like a real antique?
First, I would suggest that you closely examine all the surfaces on the item under consideration.
Carefully look at the inside, bottom, back, sides, top and front. You might have noticed that examining the front side was mentioned last. If there is an intent to fool someone, usually the most likely telltale clue will be on the least visible surfaces such as back, inside or the bottom.
Artificial aging can be accomplished through various means. Are the signs of wear located where you would expect them to be? If it is a wooden chair, sit on it and put your feet on the cross braces under the seat. Is the most wear on the place where your feet are resting?
If you are looking at a piece of wood antique furniture, especially items made of pine or other soft wood, carefully examine the dents and dings in the surface. If several of the dents are of the same shape and in a fairly straight line, look for other series of dents that follow a similar pattern. Artificial aging is sometimes accomplished by hitting the item repeatedly with a bicycle chain or some other kind of chain.
Some of the new chemical finishes make a new item look like an antique. One brush-on type of finish that has shown up in our region has the look of old varnish mixed with dirt. It can sometimes be seen on reproductions of small old-appearing doll buggies. Occasionally I have seen it on the insides of an old-appearing chest of drawers.
So, the next time you go antiquing, keep your eyes and ears open and listen to you gut-level feelings. Your common sense will give you some useful insights.
Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.