Where Yesterday Meets Tomorrow
One of the most difficult aspects of our business is determining the true date of an item. Here are some more tips.
Look for uniformity of materials. Hand made items are usually made from hand made materials. These materials are not exactly uniform in thickness, decoration, shape, etc. For instance, a piece of furniture made from uniformly thick wood is not a hand made piece no matter what form it takes and no mater what kind of distressing it displays. If the wood is exactly 3/4" thick, the wood was probably bought at 84 lumber and distressed to make it look old. If the wood is uniformly 7/8th inch thick, then it is earlier - perhaps 1900 - 1920 (we're not sure of the exact dates) but it is still machined material. If it's being used in a Kitchen hutch, it's probably authentic. If it's being used in an 1850s pie safe or dry sink, it's a FAKE! If a single piece of wood has varying thicknesses, it is NOT machined - it is hand planed to smooth the surfaces. But remember that if it is less than 3/4" thick, it could have been bought at Grossman's and then planed give it the textured feel of old wood. So be careful.
Another area to watch out for is hand smithied tools. There is something of a revival of blacksmithing going on right now. Naturally, the new smiths make projects modeled after old items. The usually indicators of age - hand work, design elements, etc. - are lacking because the item is hand done and a copy of earlier work. But you can still look at the base stock. If it is uniform in size, you can still recognize the piece as new work.
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