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“If they’re really old, it could be just a pencil signature on the inside of a drawer,” Masaschi says.
“But by the time you hit the turn of the 20th century, makers were using paper labels (shown below), which then progressed into brass plaques tacked onto the insides of drawers or on the back of a piece.
Although this may seem like a lot, all you need is an overview of the main characteristics and features of the period or style.
There are many excellent antique furniture identification and price guides that provide valuable information on furniture periods, styles and eras.
“If it’s been in the family a while, it’s worth finding out before you do some damage.” To muddy the waters a bit, there are some more recent pieces by prominent makers—for example, from the Art Deco and Arts and Crafts periods (shown in the photo below) — that command high prices and shouldn’t be touched.If you’re lucky, a piece will have a marking on it indicating its origin.Early pieces that were handcrafted will sometimes bear an inscription from an individual furniture maker, a clue to its value that should be examined by a professional appraiser.Many of these books specialize in a specific era, such as Victorian furniture.Some focus on a specific type of antique, such as antique chairs, while others provide a general overview of furniture from various periods or styles.
Wider, uniform machine-cut dovetails (pictured below, bottom piece) were common in factory-made pieces from 1890 until the modern era.