What is Antique Furniture?

January 30, 2014
What is Antique Furniture?

antigue setting

If you’re an antique furniture fan, be prepared to invest both time and money into your furniture hunt. In return, you’ll wind up with unique and beautiful furniture which is also likely to have a good resale value further down the track.

When you’re buying, unless you’re very knowledgeable, it’s best to shop from experienced dealers. You will pay more, but you will also benefit from their expertise and they should be able to give you a full history of the furniture pieces that you buy.

There are few factors that make antique furniture what it is:


By definition, antique furniture is at least 100 years old. Antiques are much older than vintage furniture, which is between 20 and 100 years old.


Antique furniture is collectible by nature.

When you’re buying Antique furniture you need to examine and be aware of:

  • Age- If you can’t get a clear confirmation of at least the approximate age

  • Rarity- Here, go with your gut. If the piece is more common, it might be less valuable. However, if it’s something you love and want in your collection, don’t let this factor stop you.

  • Condition- Don’t necessarily dismiss furniture in less than perfect condition - it might be ripe for restoration.

  • Special or Unique Features- Sometimes an imperfection may actually prove to be a valuable value add.

There is also a lot of reproduction furniture available - some of this is still very good and very well made. If you budget won’t stretch to a full antique fit-out you may choose some investment pieces, and some reproduction pieces. A dining table and chairs may be a good choice for the reproduction pieces as they are likely to be subject to the most wear and tear in a busy household.

Smaller household items such as a lamp, table clock or mirror can also be bought as antiques and this can be an excellent way to begin buying. Given the age of the furniture, you may not be able to find antique items which suit all of your needs perfectly - for example storage units and entertainment units pose a particular problem. Be prepared to re-purpose items and be imaginative with their uses.

Upholstered antique items can pose a challenge. Sofas, couches and bed mattresses will probably need to be either replaced or reupholstered before introducing them to a family home. When you’re looking to reupholster an item, take the time to find the right fabric and the right upholsterer. They need to be experienced in dealing with antique furniture and equipped to use the right materials which may mean brass tacks or studs, without damaging the frame.

Types of Antiques For Sale

Unique items. One of a kind antiques are the rarest kind of antiques for sale. Unique pieces are uniquely handcrafted as they often predate the mass production era. Take for example, the Badminton Cabinet, which was sold in 2004 for $32 million! The Cabinet was made by 30 Florentine craftsmen during the Medici period and it took six years to complete. Its connection to history makes it an extremely rare find. A popular antiquing trend is French antique furniture, which is typically the design period of Louis XIV to Napoleon III.

Mass-produced antiques. Although less rare, mass-produced objects that are older than a hundred years are still considered to be antiques. Some antiques for sale in this category include objects from World War I, antique chairs from the Edwardian period and antique bedroom furniture from the Victorian period. In 30 years’ time, what we would consider to be vintage furniture (1920s-1950s) will also become antiques. So, keep an eye out for soon-to-be antique furniture when they are on sale!

Where to find antiques for sale

Antique objects can be found at a wide variety of places, according to their size, rarity and price. The rarest and most expensive are found at auctions and estate sales. Less rare antiques can be found more widely as flea markets, antique shops and even at secondhand shops. Here, what is actually an antique may not be sold as one because the vendor has not recognised its value. This is what makes antiquing so exciting!

More and more, antiques are being sold online. When buying antiques online is a convenient option, keep in mind that larger items may be more expensive to transport. If you’re looking for antique chairs or antique bedroom furniture, take a look at an antique shop first before going online. This could save you a lot of freight costs!

Are you ready to be an avid antiquer? Here's our guid on how to make antique furniture work in your home