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"Prompt, Courteous, Dependable"
by Steve & Corinne Healy
Technically, the Tariff Act of 1930 defined an object as an antique if it were manufactured prior to 1830, the time when mass production became commonplace. Then, in 1966, the standard of 100 years or older was adopted. The National Free Trade Act (NAFTA) in 1993 took it one step further to include antique objects that have been repaired or restored, provided they retain their original character. If the piece has undergone 50% or more changes, then it is no longer considered an antique.
In short: The piece has to be 100 years or older with 50% or more of its essential, original character. However, being old does not automatically mean that the piece is valuable. Antique value is dependent on its rarity, condition, quality, and provenance.
Many owners of antique furniture are afraid to have their furniture restored or refinished because they think it may lower the value of the pieces. In most cases, this is not true. In fact, a well done restoration or repair may even increase the value. Peter B. Cook, from the Antiques Roadshow, stated that a “well-conceived and well-executed refinishing and restoration usually enhances the value of just about any piece of old furniture”. The article from the “Professional Refinishing” magazine, June 2002, explains more in detail.
On a more personal note, we encounter a lot of clients who own antiques and family heirlooms; however, they are afraid to use them because they are either unstable or they feel they may cause more damage. On many pieces we encounter, the finish is so deteriorated and dark that it obscures the beautiful underlying wood. We call this finish “chocolate brown”. We always ask the owner if they think the original craftsman would have wanted it to look that way.
We specialize in repairs and do up to complete restorations of antiques and family heirlooms. We attempt to save as much or the original piece as possible and only replace parts when absolutely necessary. A good example is the drawer support and guides, and the drawer sides to dressers and casework. In antique dressers, the drawer sides are supported by and guided by wooden supports. Both the guides and drawer sides eventually wear out, causing the drawers to bind and become difficult to operate. The drawer side bottom edges need to be repaired and the supports and guides need to be replaced. The original condition caused the piece to be devalued. The repairs caused the piece to increase in value.
We restore more chairs than any other piece of furniture; however, it is hard to show before and after photos of a restored chair. The loose chair looks just like the restored chair. On the Recent Projects page, we have included some photos of dresser restorations that give you an idea of what we can accomplish. Of all the restorations we conduct, dresser restorations give me the most satisfaction. Our customers are truly appreciative when we give them back a usable piece of furniture that will last another 100 years.
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See precious family heirlooms restored to perfect condition