When buying antique hardware, inspect hinges, screws and wood grains for signs of aging and ask the seller relevant questions to determine the age of the item. It also helps to look at the style and shape of a piece to identify the time period it is from.
Inspect antique hardware for natural aging of metals and for staining of wood colors and grains. Darker screws and nails indicate an older piece. Saw marks also show that an item is well-aged.
Look under the item, and remove any cushions. If the item is made of wood, check to see that the wood color and grain match up all over. Flip over tables and chairs to examine the bottoms of the legs. This part of the item has years of wear and shows the true color of the wood. If the bottom does not match with the rest of the piece, it likely means the wood is finished to look like a more desirable type of wood.
Ask the seller of the antique item for background information such as where she acquired the item and how long she has owned it. If the seller answers immediately, it is usually a good sign that the answer is honest. Hesitation and jumbled words may indicate that the seller is hiding something or trying to sell an item that is not a genuine antique.