How to Identify Antique Kitchen Chairs

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Antique kitchen chairs come in all styles and colors. They can have rush, caned, plank, woven and slat seats. There are ladder backs, slat backs, solid backs,bent backs and carved backs. Antique kitchen chairs can be Shaker, Windsor, plain or fancy. Antique chairs bring charm to a country kitchen, but work well as desk chairs. They can find a home on a sunny porch or a bedroom corner. But before you buy, know what to look for in a true antique chair.

Things You'll Need

  • Reference book

Know What You Are Looking For

  • Consult antique books and websites. Visit antique shops and talk to experts in the field. Learn as much as you can about the type of chair you want to buy.

  • Study the chair's craftsmanship. To be considered a true antique, a chair must be over 100 years old. Most antique chairs would have been handmade, not manufactured by machine. On a hand-crafted antique chair, the screws will have flat, untapered heads. There may also be signs of nicks, cuts and scrapes caused by hand tools.

  • Look at how the chair is put together. If glue was used, look for signs of crystallization. The glue used on antique furniture was made from animal products and as it ages, it dries out. If the chair joints are loose, this is also a sign that the glue is old.

    Nails would have square heads and not be uniform in size.

  • Study the chair for signs of wear. Tip it upside down and look at the chair rail stretchers. If the chair is caned, are there holes worn in the seat or is the seat missing altogether? A plank chair seat will be worn smooth with wear. The paint on an antique chair may be worn off where people sat and rested their backs.

    Look at the finish, or patina, of the wood. True antiques have a glow from the build up of wax from years of use. This will only apply to chairs that are not painted.

  • Look for signs of mending or other alterations. Check to see if the chair has been mended in any way with modern materials like uniform nails and screws or if it has been stipped and refinished or the caning or rush on the seat has been replaced. The value of the chair goes down if any orgiinal parts have been replaced.

  • Take the chair to an appraiser. If possible, have an expert look at the chair and estimate its age and value.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you plan to use an antique chair on a daily basis, be sure that it is sturdy and won't break when someone sits in it.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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