It is important for those interested in antique furniture to be aware of the types and styles of hardware used on a specific piece including the material and design.
It is also helpful to know where to find original and high quality reproduction hardware for antique furniture.
Although many pieces of antique furniture have survived through the centuries, unfortunately a great number of them are missing some or all of their original hardware.
Sometimes a collector may come across a lovely piece that appears to have all of its drawer pulls, hinges, keyhole escutcheons or other hardware intact.
Drawers (and backs) are also usually one of the cheapest components in furniture. Most modern pieces—even high-quality reproductions that look very genuine on the outside—use plywood in drawer construction.
The logic behind this move is simple: why waste expensive, solid wood (which has to be carefully treated and cured) on the inside of a drawer?
New hardware can also be made to look antique, so don’t draw too hasty of a conclusion: just keep it in mind.
Also, if you can find screws (usually visible on the back, if at all), are they Phillips or flat head?
Shellack finishes were very often quite thick (up to a quarter inch!
), so that’s another—albeit slightly more difficult—indicator to look for. Basically, if you’re serious about knowing whether your piece is antique, compare it to similar pieces that claim to be antique.
There are several types of businesses that carry, and often specialize in, original hardware for antique furniture.