Dating antique mahogany tables

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There is no exact science where antique furniture is concerned; you simply make an educated decision based on what is most important to you.

Becoming knowledgeable about antique furniture takes research, even if you are focusing on only one aspect of this wide-ranging subject.

If your family has used the same dining room table since you were young, there's a chance that you've been eating your dinner from a priceless antique. Assessing the style of a piece of furniture, such as a dining table, can help determine not only its age, but also from which part of the world it originated.

The condition and markings on the wood, the style and the hardware used to assemble the table can help determine if it's antique -- more than 100 years old -- or simply a collectible. Europe has a rich tradition of recognizable styles, from gothic to neo-classical, as does China and America, with its British colonial background.

These styles evolved through the years, and if you aren't conversant with them, you can compare features of your table to examples found on antique furniture websites.

Even if the style of the table suggests that it's an antique, however, you have to consider other factors.

Think of it this way — It’s like contemporary singer Michael Buble singing in the style of Frank Sinatra. Buble singing Sinatra songs in the 2000s was a revival of Sinatra’s style which was popular in the 1950s.

Similarly, this revival of the Duncan Phyfe style is seen in furniture designs in the early decades of the 1900s.

It is common that such pieces have come to be known as simply “Duncan Phyfe”, but they are not authentic Duncan Phyfe pieces. As you probably guessed, there is a big value or monetary difference between authentic Duncan Phyfe furniture and Duncan Phyfe style furniture.

Very coarse and irregular teeth marks can place the table to the late 16th century, when only basic handsaws were available. Another way to date a table is to examine the hardware holding it together.

Unless your table predates the 18th century, when it was common to assemble tables with wooden pegs, the fabricators probably assembled it with screws.

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