This morning I hurriedly grabbed a comfy pair of stretchy exercise capri pants to wear to smug. ( Comfort is important when sitting at 6am and learning how to be an effective social media guru. )  I glanced in the mirror, twisting to see the rear view and   things in the rear were just a bit visually pronounced for first thing in the morning.  Must be related to that nightly water retention  or something and certainly not the huge meal I enjoyed at Feast in Decatur with my husband last nite, I thought.  Since the rear view was in need of modification, I grabbed a coordinating vintage kimono(problem immediately covered up and comfort assured) and out the door I went to snug –  whoops I mean SMUG(Social Media Users Group).

Behind the wheel and backing out it dawned on me at dawn, I did mention that SMUG is at 6am EST, that covering up would make a good blog topic.  How do you know when something has been covered up in an antique or collectible?  Read on for some expert tips on discovering if you too have a cover up issue.  One of the biggest areas in collecting where I see cover ups is in furniture.

Tips for spotting Furniture Cover-ups.

1)  Surface Color Changes –   look for color changes and disturbances to the surface patina.  On a real antique, the color and age acquired over time on the surface of wood furniture is termed patina.  It should be a warm beautiful glow, making sense and appearing even.  For instance on a chair rail people grasp the top edge and this surface will probably appear different from the rest of the surface.  So if the color is uneven, doesn’t make sense, is wrong for the wood type, or is dense and dark then take a closer look to see if the piece is really as old as you think or the seller is purporting.  It could be as simple as someone trying to freshen things up, but always take a closer look when you see unwarranted color changes.

2)  Veneer Patches – Veneer is a thin piece of wood applied to a solid wood surface.  This allows better use of more expensive woods and helps with surface cracking.  Patches of veneer are often glued to a surface to repair a small missing piece.  Old repairs are okay, but newer repairs could hurt a real antique piece particularly if they were not completed by an expert restorer.  You may also see where someone attempts to varnish or lacquer over the chip further mucking up the surface.  Also large patches have a chance of loosening with time or bubbling and could detract from the beauty and value of the piece in time.

3) Artificial  Color – artificially darkened surfaces are just that artificial and could be covering up wear, faking age, or masking a physical modification to the structure of the piece like a new top on an old bottom.  This combining of old and new,  or a piece which once belonged to 100 year old table A with piece from 110 year old table B for example, is called a marriage.  Marriage in the world of antiques, as in real life,  is a big topic and I will blog on it later.  If anyone has a good picture of a married piece, they would  like to share, please send to me.

A professional tip to tell if dark surface color is real, one indicator of age, or fake is to take your finger nail and see if it scrapes off.  If it does then it probably is old dirt and oil build up, if not then it is color added to make it look dark, old and dirty.  Color meant to fake or conceal the real age of a piece will often be applied in places where it doesn’t make sense, for instance on the inside of drawer.  Dirt and grime only builds up on exposed areas, like the bottom of tables and the backs of chests.

If you are unsure about a piece it always is prudent to consult with an expert.  We are available for consultation.  Contact  us via twitter @AppraiserVal or email:  Website: