Sunday, 16 September 2007

Determine the quality of Reproduction Furniture

Determine the quality of Reproduction Furniture.

The efficient advantage of modern finishing techniques and precision machines to create reproduction antique furniture has pushed the traditional methods aside. Many of the original trades such as upholstery, French polishing and cabinet making that guided the industrial revolution have been left behind and are becoming lost arts. Part of the reason I write as a professional French polisher is to recover, re-invent and restore these trades that played a remarkable role in European culture during the later part of the 20th century.

During my years as a Finisher, French polisher and Restorer, I came across many different styles of furniture. Most of which were reproductions of European period models. Some containing an unmatched attention to detail that they almost could pass as the original model.

As a professional in the business, I quickly learned an accurate technique of distinguishing the reproductions by determining the type of finish. The finish that was used during the periods that produced some of the finest European antiques, was a technique called 'French polishing.' This process is very labour intensive and was refined in France in the 1700's, hence it's name.
From my experience of working with almost every type of finish on the market, there is nothing that brings out the beauty of wood, than wood that has been carefully French polished.

As America becomes increasingly capable of producing high end European reproductions, so many other countries with much lower labour costs do the same. At first the reproductions, mostly from the eastern hemisphere were crafted to a much lower standard than the ones being made in western nations. With time people began to realize the sheer economical incentives to producing, labour intensive and intricate models of furniture overseas. Large companies sent their quality control operators to improve the quality of craftsmanship. The reproductions were now made to a much higher standard and the already competitive industry became fierce. One thing that has always been hard for non-industrial countries to implement was a high quality technique of finishing. To this day that fact remains that recognizing a finish, helps you recognize the quality of the piece.

My trained eye helps me recognize the type of finish and from that I am able to evaluate the value of a piece. Learning about the different types of wood finish, and the years and periods from which they were used, can greatly benefit your ability's to determine the quality and craftsmanship of a piece whether it be a rare Queen Anne original antique or Regency reproduction.

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