Compared to most antiques in the market, antique furniture is one of the hardest to sell. All because their value is so hard to determine and you have to sell via the right store, market, or channel to gain more.
For instance, you can’t just make a rough price comparison with similar furniture online and expect to get an accurate price. Even if you do, it may not be its actual price as there are various types of price points an antique can have, which we will touch on later.
What you need to do to sell antique furniture effectively includes studying it, valuing it, storing it, and going through the right marketplace or store.
Please read on as we’ve encompassed all the processes mentioned into ten foolproof tips on selling your antique furniture…
Selling antique furniture can be very difficult, especially when you have no prior knowledge of how to take on the market for it. Follow these tips below, and you should be able to make your first successful sale:
1. Study Your Antique furniture
Before you can make a successful sale, the first step is to perform an intensive assessment of your antique furniture. And this assessment should be tailored to identify the item in question fully. To Know whether it fits the current antique market trend is tedious because it doesn’t work like the common antique market.
Here are several forms of assessments you should perform on your antique furniture:
Is it an antique?
The first thing you need to confirm about your antique furniture is if it’s an antique. And not some reproduction. With an untrained eye, you might be unable to tell whether it’s genuinely antique. You’d probably need the help of an appraiser to do this, which can be costly and hard to find. However, there are certain clues to look for which you can use to confirm if your furniture is an antique:
Type of finish
One clue to look out for is the type of finish because there have been centuries where certain types of finishes weren’t invented yet, for instance, before lacquer and varnish in the mid-18th century. Shellac was the clearest form of finish to existing then. So if you notice this on your antique furniture, there’s a chance it could be antique instead of a replica.
Type of wood
Another serial you should look out for is the type of wood used to make the furniture. If your antique furniture consists purely of mahogany, then it’s either American or European furniture that’s most likely from the 17th century. Other types of wood, such as walnuts and oak, became popular in later centuries.
Stamp or label
You can also identify the age of our furniture from the writings on it. And you can only find such on the label or stamp area of the wooden furniture. They usually contain serial numbers, name or mark of manufacturer, location, and sometimes its date of manufacture.
Non-uniformity of design
Authentic Antique furniture, especially antique wooden furniture, is known to have different types of wood. The quality ones cover the body of the furniture, while the low-quality (cheap) ones are within the furniture (usually underneath the furniture). Many carpenters or companies use such a strategy to reduce the cost of production before the industrial age.
The style of the screws also helps with confirming the age of your furniture. For instance, antique slot screws were handmade, as you would notice from their crudeness. The side of the screw is smooth instead of tapered like the modern designs. Antique slot screws also stand facing different angles due to their crudeness.
Sometimes Antique furniture can possess a part that doesn’t share the same material with all other parts. There are loads of reasons for such a design, but the most likely is the lack of ample materials. So the manufacturers probably improvised at that time.
The paint on Antique furniture is almost non-existent. Even if the furniture happens to be in mint condition, there should still be signs of wear and faded paint for it to be considered an antique. However, if the paint is bright as though it’s new, the furniture has been tampered with. Or it could be a really good reproduction from the late 19th or 20th century.
Note: paint over your antique furniture could cause it to drop in value.
Antique furniture appears as though two or many pieces of furniture merge. Whereby each is different from one another due to time or where it came from. For instance, your antique dressing table with drawers could have Italian-made wood and designs, but the knobs are of American design and material.
Something as simple as the dovetail on the joints of your antique furniture can give you an idea of the authenticity of your antique furniture. For instance, the dovetails of actual antique furniture appear distorted, as though it is handmade. Whereas perfect reproduction of antique furniture possess dovetails that appear precisely cut. It is because a machine is behind its orderly cutout.
Possibly a second-hand piece
It is extremely hard to find antique furniture that remains strong or at least visually presentable after standing the test of time. It is why some deceitful traders resort to selling severely damaged antique furniture, which has recently been reconstructed as an original.
What’s its current condition?
Another step in studying your antique furniture is to take note of its state. Because the antique trader community places a higher value on antique furniture that stands the test of time over reproductions that have aesthetics, owners of such furniture invest a lot into maintaining them so that they will not further deteriorate.
Also, there has to be authentic evidence that the furniture in deed is an antique piece. And one of the surest indicators is the furniture’s surface, Patina which is a bronze-like skin. Such a feature depicts that the antique furniture is undergoing an obvious aging process due to years and years of sunlight exposure, waxing, dusting, and oxidization of the wood material.
Any manufacturer’s mark?
Another important step in studying your antique furniture’s authenticity is looking for actual evidence, such as the manufacturer’s mark.
However, most antique furniture lacked the mark of its makers until the late 19th century (1895). From then on, it became popular for artisans to put shop marks on their furniture. All before the market turned to furniture with marks from major furniture companies and popular retailers by 1940.
It means before 1895 and even after, loads of antique furniture didn’t have a maker’s mark. Thus identification is a tedious process that you should handle with patience and proper research.
So, to identify who made your furniture, you need to know the kind of people that put manufacturer’s marks or shop marks on their furniture. It could be the following:
Retailer: this individual or company buys furniture directly from the furniture factory and sells it to consumers with the retailer’s shop mark. For instance, a retail company like Sears, Roebuck, and company place their couches, cabinets, dressing tables, and other types of furniture fresh from the factory in showrooms. All their products have a Sears, Roebuck, and company mark.
Large furniture company: this entity manufactures the furnitures and marks them from the assembly. If you’re an admirer of antique furniture, you’ll probably notice a recurring name such as the Old Hickory furniture company, which is from Indiana. They’re a well-known large regional furniture company. Their original antique furniture is extremely valuable in the antique market.
Cabinetmakers: These are artisans that make shop marks on their furniture. And usually use paper labels or metal tags are used to house the shop marks.
Industry groups: This special entity deals mainly in promoting to improve the industry. For instance, around 1930, the Mahogany Association was formed to promote using mahogany wood to manufacture furniture.
Where can you find these labels or marks?
The product is antique furniture, so finding the label may be tricky, especially if after doing any refurbishment. Such as painting which can cover up the maker’s tag or paper label. Another possible cause is the label or tag disappearing or damaging due to furniture falling apart.
Here are possible positions where you can find the labels and tags of your antique furniture:
Behind the furniture: you can find the maker’s tag behind your antique furniture. The reason why artisans do this is that they don’t want to damage the furniture’s finish. So they place the tags on a regular piece of wood attached to the finish behind the furniture.
Lower edge: Another possible location for the maker’s tag is the lower edge of the furniture.
Within the furniture: you can also find the maker’s tag or label within the furniture. For instance, you can find the maker’s burned on the underside of the drawer.
2. Document it
Another tip you should consider after studying your antique furniture is to document it. It means you should take notes and clear pictures of your furniture. So that you can have references in case you need to insure it or display the item for online marketplaces like Ruby Lane or eBay
3. Do Not touch the antique furniture Until after determining Its Value
We understand that you are trying to make the necessary changes to the antique furniture to raise its value and sell it. Or even transporting it to an expert appraiser on time before you miss an auction sale or even consider selling it.
However, it would help if you ceased doing any of these as such moves could cause the value of the furniture to depreciate before selling it. How? For one, making repairs to the antique furniture could drop its value instead of increasing it because there are antique furniture collectors that place more value in the furniture’s somewhat raw state than its refurbished state. Also, while transporting it to the appraiser, you risk getting the antique furniture damaged during transit as the antique furniture might be in an extremely delicate stare.
So, the appropriate move you should take first is to determine the value of your Antique furniture. This way, you get to know what you’re dealing with, which could be either a valuable piece or a cheap one.
Read more on how to determine the value of your antique furniture.
4. Determine the value of your Antique furniture
Valuing antique furniture is not that easy. The safest way to go about valuing furniture is to hire an expert appraiser or refer to a verified paper guide on how to value your antique furniture. However, we’ve proved several clues you can bank on before resorting to those measures or at least give you an idea of what your furniture costs in the antique market.
Here are factors that determine the value of your antique furniture:
Although age is not the main determinant for your antique furniture to be of high value, it’s still part of the process to conclude that it is high value. For instance, antique furniture from the 16th century that’s still aesthetic can be worth loads of money. The hand-painted chest from 1715, an extraordinary joined oak and polychrome “Hadley” chest with drawers, was sold for over $1 million in 2016.
Note: If the antique furniture in your coffers is much older, you should expect much higher prices.
Another factor determining your Antique furniture’s value is its manufacturing process. Is it a piece that is hand-crafted or with machines? Because antique furniture crafted with crude tools is much more valuable in the antique market, it requires a lot of effort. On the other hand, antique furniture made with machines requires less effort; thus, its value is likely not so high in the market.
How to tell the difference between hand-crafted antique furniture and one done with a machine? Hand-crafted antique furniture usually has the name of the crafter in the piece. Whereas the ones made with machines usually have the company’s or retailer’s name or logo on them.
For instance, a John Townsend Chippendale-style chest from the 18th century was sold in 2012 for $3.5 million.
Note: sometimes, the craftsmanship of antique items such as furniture matters as they sell for a better price..
Sometimes the entire value of your antique furniture may not depend on its age or even its craftsmanship, as those are usually used for furniture made with ordinary materials. Sometimes they depend on the exotic materials that make them beautiful. For instance, antique furnitures made with Ebony wood and entrusted with real gems tend to be more pricey than ordinary antique furniture that happens to be old or hand-crafted.
Does it have Provenance?
It can also be another determinant, as the market for Antique furniture that has a history with famous owners or establishments tends to sell better.
5. Know the types of antique furniture values
Antique furniture possesses up to four types of values. So you can’t just scan eBay or Amazon for similar products and choose to sell at the price you’ve discovered. That would risk selling your antique furniture for less than its actual value.
Here are several types of values your furniture can possess:
Estate or Tax value
Bodies such as the IRS, Estate, and attorneys recognizes this value. If you’re looking to get rid of your antique furniture quickly, adopting its value for it can be your best choice. Estate value is usually more pricey than wholesale value, but it’s not the same as retail value. Also, the estate value of your furniture can be the average of similar antique furniture auction prices.
Fair price value
The fair price value is more of an agreed price between the dealer and the buyer of the antique furniture. It is the highest value a piece of antique furniture can have. Even appraisers make use of this value. Insurance companies also use this value for antique furniture, known as the replacement value. If your insured antique furniture were stolen or seriously damaged, you could get compensation for its fair price.
It is the price a piece of antique furniture would sell for in pawn shops, antique shops, or a flea market.
It is the value the dealer you wish to sell recognizes in case there’s no actual value for the piece in the first place. Such a value can be up to 50% less than the furniture’s retail value you wish to sell for.
6. Get It Appraised
Doing the research and looking up values can be stressful and time-consuming. However, you can avoid all that extra work if you hire a certified appraiser. And make sure he or she has experience with antique furniture. Also, beware of fakes, as anyone can claim to be an appraiser—especially the ones you contact online from just any appraiser website.
To Avoid such fakes, here are some tips to help you choose a genuine antique furniture appraiser:
- Online appraisers aren’t reliable because they won’t have physical access to antique furniture. So their assessment capabilities are limited.
- Look for an appraiser who handles antique furniture.
- You’ll need a sizable budget, as the service could cost up to $300.
- Confirm their competence by asking for references. An expert appraiser should provide you with all the information you need.
- Ensure the appraiser provides a written appraisal and the method the appraiser adopted.
- Free Appraisals from a website you’re selling antiques through may not be reliable.
7. Decide what to do with it
It’s advisable to do this in between getting your antique furniture appraised and selling it. Because you’d already know how much it cost. So if the value of your Antique furniture is low or negligible, you can choose to refurbish and sell it or keep it. But if its value happens to be high, then you can sell it or keep it if the furniture has sentimental value.
8. Prepare it
After deciding what to do with your antique furniture, you should prepare it. For instance, If you choose to keep it, but the furniture is in a bad state, you’ll have to refurbish it. However, suppose your appraiser says you should not make any modifications to the furniture to avoid problems with its value. In that case, you should maintain the furniture before you sell or store it.
9. Store Up Your Antique furniture
You can’t store your antique furniture whichever way you wish to, as it could lead to gradual disintegration. So before you store up your antique furniture, here are some tips to help you store your furniture safely:
Keep the furniture in a room which is always at optimal temperature. Because if you keep it in a room with an extreme temperature or experience extreme temperature changes from time to time, you risk damaging it.
Note: keep it away from your attic.
- Don’t allow the furniture to touch the floor or the walls.
- Cover the furniture with a protective material to prevent dust build-up.
- Keep the furniture in a room that is easily accessible so that you can always carry it out with ease without risking damage before you sell.
10. Determine Where To Sell your Antique furniture
There are many websites and places where you can sell your antique furniture, both offline and online. However, each channel you wish to sell your antique furniture has advantages and disadvantages.
best places for selling antiques (furniture)
Local Antique stores
If you wish to sell locally to get paid in cash quickly, one of the best places to sell is in antique stores. It’s quite convenient, but you’ll likely have to sell your furnitures according to its wholesale value, which is 30% lower than its retail value. But if you’ve already appraised your furniture and the price is too high, you might not be able to sell.
Note: selling antiques that are affordable sell easily.
Selling your antique furniture via auction houses attracts much higher prices. But at the same time, you risk selling your antique furniture for less than its fair price value. The reason why this happens is because the value of your antique furniture doesn’t rely on the buyer or seller having any say in it. But on the average price of similar furniture in auction sales.
Also, you can put your antique or vintage furniture in an online or offline auctioneer. And auctions usually involve selling fees. In most cases this fee is 25%.
Note: Auction houses may offer to appraise your antique furniture to get its actual value.
Online peer-to-peer marketplaces
You can also sell your antique furniture online and important spare parts. But it has to be via a peer-to-peer marketplace place that involves selling antiques such as pieces of fine art, unique items, and even antique or vintage furniture:
Note: selling Antiques via online marketplaces will incur a fee if you wish to sell. It is affordable.
Who buys antique furniture near me?
If you wish to find antique furniture buyers near you, then local events that involves selling antiques should be your destination:
- Garage sales
- Estate sales
- Local antique shops
- Pawn shops
- Thrift stores
- Flea market
Now you have all the tips you’ll need to increase the chances of your antique furniture selling for its actual price. As we’ve touched on all the necessary processes needed to make a solid sale, from studying and Valuing the antique furniture in question down to storing it up before its sale day.