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How can one identify antique, wooden dining chairs?

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Quick Answer

Identify antique, wooden dining chairs by determining the type of wood used; inspecting the fasteners used; checking if the wood has any cuts or nicks at the back, sides or bottom; and the wood finish used. The style of the dining chairs is also a determinant.

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Full Answer

Wooden dining chairs and other wooden furniture are antique if they are over 50 years old. They are labeled as fine antique if their age is above 150 years.

Typically, chairs of this age and older have paintbrush-like Spanish feet or pad, claw or tapered feet. These chairs also have cane seats and backs and detailed adornments, such as Baroque carvings, carved legs and nature-inspired embellishments. Additionally, since these chairs are handmade, precise symmetry cannot be found in the chair slats, rungs and other small components.

Also, such chairs are mostly made of mahogany, oak, pine, maple, cherry and walnut wood. The finish given to pieces made before the 1860s is shellac, as opposed to varnish or lacquer. Further, the presence of nicks and cuts in the wood indicates that it was cut with a drawknife or a spokeshave. Saw marks that are straight or arc-shaped also indicate an antique dining chair.

Finally, if the fasteners in the dining chairs have rose-shaped heads that are irregular, square heads or are unevenly threaded screws, it shows that the furniture belongs to the late 1700s and early 1800s. Dining chairs made in the 1900s have machine-made nails or screws with even threads.

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