Many people wonder if there piece of furniture is an antique. There are several ways you can spot an antique. The first giveaway is the joinery; machine-cut furniture wasn’t made until about 1860. If the piece has drawers, remove a drawer and look closely where the front and back of the drawer are fastened to the sides of the drawer. If a joint was dovetailed by hand, it has only a few dovetails, and they aren’t exactly even; if it has closely spaced, precisely cut dovetails, it was machine-cut. Handmade dovetails almost always indicate a piece made before 1860.
Now, look carefully at the bottom, sides, and back of the drawer; if the wood shows nicks or cuts, it was probably cut with a plane, or a knife. Straight saw marks also indicate an old piece. If the wood shows circular or arc-shaped marks, it was cut by a circular saw, not in use until about 1860.
Exact symmetry is another sign that the piece was machine-made. On handmade furniture, rungs, slats, spindles, rockers, and other small-diameter components are not uniform. Examine these parts carefully; slight differences in size or shape are not always easy to spot. An original piece is not perfectly cut; a reproduction antique with the same components is, because it was cut by machine.
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