Imagine stumbling across an old table at garage sale, taking it home for a mere $25, only to find out later it's an antique card table from the late 1700s! Well, that's exactly what happened to a schoolteacher in New Jersey. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals

 

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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Furniture > Feature: A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way
 


FURNITURE CARE & REPAIRS

* Appraising Wood Furniture
* Cleaning Wicker Furniture
* Protecting Antique Chairs (Windsor & Chippendales)
* Scratches in Wood Furniture
* Waxing Wood Furniture
* Furniture Knowledge
* Antique Furniture Price Guides
* Restoring Antique Painted Chests
* French Polishing Furniture
* French Polishing Furniture # 2
* French Polishing Furniture # 3
* French Polishing Furniture # 4
* Repairing Marquetry Furniture
* Repairing Parquetry Furniture
* Furniture Restoration - What to look for
* Repairing Split Wood Furniture
* Stripping Wood
* Waxing Furniture

 


 
A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE GOES A LONG WAY
 

 Imagine stumbling across an old table at garage sale, taking it home for a mere $25, only to find out later it's an antique card table from the late 1700s! Well, that's exactly what happened to a schoolteacher in New Jersey.

She told me all about her discovery back when I was in the auction business, and I wanted to mention it here with the approach of flea market and tag sale season.
 
It turns out, the woman I mentioned had no idea she was buying a classic piece of furniture from the Federal period she thought it was a nice old card table and for $25 she was a getting a deal. However, with a few simple tips, she would've known just how great a deal it was.
 
With that in mind, here are a few things to look for when you're out scouting flea markets and tag sales this spring:

Look for marks
Her card table was a textbook example of a piece of furniture from the Federal period. It was even marked, "John Seymour & Son, Creek Square, Boston," which meant it had come from one of the greatest furniture makers of the time.

The table in question. It sold for $541,000.

The table in question. It sold at
Sotheby's for $541,000.

Examine the wood
The table was made from mahogany, which, in addition to cherry and walnut, among other woods, was typical of the era. It also had generous satinwood inlay, a prime characteristic of the period, on its top, edge, and down its tapered legs. In fact, part of the inlay's beauty was due to an unusual treatment that called for using hot sand to highlight the wood's color and lend it a three-dimensional look.

Know your history
Way before the Internet and television, card-playing was a popular activity. Tables were created especially for such games, usually in pairs to accommodate large groups. They were covered in a green felt-like material called baize, and shaped in a demi-lune, or half circle, with its top folding in half onto itself. When the tables weren't being used they were pushed up against a wall to save space. That's why one side didn't have to be decorated.

And what about that schoolteacher's table? She had it informally appraised by an antiques expert and was shocked to discover that it was worth between $200,000 and $300,000. She was even more surprised when she put it up for auction. Her "nice old card table" sold at Sotheby's New York for $541,000!

What an amazing story. Discovering a hidden treasure is a big thrill for nearly every antique buyer and knowing how to spot a treasure can make those finds all the more thrilling.

 


 

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