Buyer Beware: Tips for Furniture Buyers – by Marko Kareinen

August 7th, 2012 by

At first glance, this looks like an authentic Empire chest. It is a fine intarsia decoration, old-looking fittings, good varnish etc. To a new collector, this would appear to be made around 1850 but buyer beware.  This is a new product!

This chest is actually made around 1950.

How can you tell?  A closer look behind the chest is the giveaway.

The back of the chest and the bottom of the drawers are made of plywood.

Plywood is an older wood, but a real Empire chest would have a solid back and the drawers would be solid also.

Below are a few images to help you identify old from new:

Take a look at the back – does this look like a solid back?

Here is a reproduction drawer base in plywood.

Here is an old drawer base. (Neo Renaissance chest 1890 ) It is made of solid wood.