Determining Antique Age

How does one determine ...?
Determining antique age of furniture is mentioned here for comparison purposes only. This article refers to Chinese porcelain.

  • Furniture age
  • Ceramics age

Determining age requires before all lots of experience. After you have seen many genuine and fake antiques you will get the feeling for separating the two.

The same point-by-point inspection happens when determining the age of wooden or porcelain antiques. Slowly you learn to recognize the signs of age specific to the type of item, that distinguish a genuinely old or antique item from a new or recently made one.

Additional knowledge can only improve accuracy of an evaluation. This may include knowledge of styles, colors or tools used in a certain period.


Introduction to Chinese Porcelain

Furniture age
(as an example)

In the case of furniture, for example, having a background as woodworker,  or as a furniture restorer who works with both old and new wood, is probably the most helpful.
Styles can be faked, but a woodworker can recognize not only the wood type, but also whether wood is old, or 'made' to look old. He is also able to recognize whether joints, etc. were made using hand tools, if a piece of furniture was restored previously, and to what a degree.
A collector or dealer will usually take longer to be able to recognize some of the age signs as fake or genuine; it may require many years of experience.

Ceramics age

With ceramics this is basically the same.
A warning
to those who already collect or handle furniture and other antiques, though.
You cannot expect ceramics to have the same old feeling, or judge them by the patina as you would with wood. 200 year old porcelain can look very new to the untrained eye; on the other hand, old-looking ceramics often have been cleverly faked to look that way.
Additional learning is indispensable in this special field of antiques, to acquire the knowledge to recognize age signs and differentiate them from fake ones. Knowing the basics of ancient kiln firing methods is of advantage too.
Determining antique age is only possible after the presence of artificial age signs can be excluded. Additional knowledge of decorations, materials, shapes, etc. can only help.

Yes ... porcelain and other ceramics do age too! Their age is often less obvious, however, and after 200 years some pieces still look pretty new. Many years of experience come in handy when identifying age signs of porcelain.
When evaluating age and authenticity nothing equals experience obtained by the inspection of hundreds or even thousands of ceramic items, both fake and genuine. Right ... fakes are necessary too! Sometimes you just can't identify age properly unless you know both.

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