How To Choose Antique & Vintage Chairs

Antique & vintage chairs make great accent chairs. They come in all sorts of styles, sizes, and purposes ranging from ornate seating from other centuries right on up through nostalgia pieces such as kitchen chairs made from metal tubing with vinyl seats.

If you plan for the chair to be part of your normal living space, you might want to go for “vintage” rather than “antique.”

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What's the difference beween antique and vintage chairs?

  • Antique

Prized for age and rarity, antique chairs are often beautiful, sometimes intricate. If you want authentic antiques, there are several ways to prove the origin of the item. If there are purchase receipts showing that the item belonged to someone famous, for example, you can keep these things in a portfolio that will allow you to vouch for the item’s age.

If a paper trail such as this is not available, you can take the item to an expert and have it assessed. The expert might then issue a certificate stating his or her opinion on whether your item is a genuine antique. As a rule of thumb, antiques are usually at least 100 years old.

  • Vintage

Can refer to a particular year, as in “This wine vintage is from 1930.” It can also mean used, secondhand items, but often refers to things that are less than 100 years old, but are still unique, valuable because their availability is limited, or prized simply because of what they are.

For example, a 1950s kitchen chair made with tubular legs and back with vinyl seat and back upholstery in good condition is rare. Why? Because these factory-made, common chairs wore out quickly. Over time, the seat upholstery usually split and the stuffing would come out of it. If you can find the real deal in good condition, it is a vintage chair.

  • Reproductions

While we are defining terms, if you like the look of antiques but can’t afford them or don’t want to deal with the upkeep of one, you might select reproductions.

They won’t have authentication papers and they might not be as good a quality as the real thing, but they can look great if you need an accent chair.

Mahogany Antique Chairs & Vintage Chairs
Square Antique Chairs & Vintage Chairs
Mid Century Antique Chairs & Vintage Chairs
Polyester Blend Antique Chairs & Vintage Chairs
Windsor back Antique Chairs & Vintage Chairs
Cherry Antique Chairs & Vintage Chairs

Where to Find Antique & Vintage Chairs?

  • Estate Sales

While it might seem ghoulish, estate sales where someone has passed on is often a good place to pick up antique or vintage items. You need to have a good eye for genuine age as well as good knowledge of antiques in general.

  • Secondhand Shops

Shop keepers who specialize in new-to-you furniture will sometimes have antiques without realizing what they have.

However, the items you find in secondhand shops will often be of lower quality or in poor repair. Sometimes, you can locate a “find.” Secondhand stores, since they are not trying to sell their merchandise as antiques, will also sometimes sell reproductions.

  • Antique Stores

These are specialty shops that sometimes sell antiques. Be careful to note whether they are selling antiques or whether they are really just a secondhand store with the word “antiques” on the front.

One walk-through should be enough for you to quickly see the difference. Typically, a true antique store will have higher prices.

  • Antique Auctions

These are different from estate sales. Think of them as being like art auctions. Do not expect to pick up “deals”, but you might find something special.

What to Look for When Selecting Antique or Vintage Chairs?

  • Maker’s Signature or Manufacturing Marks

The former is more likely to be found on older, handmade furniture; the latter on items that are possibly more properly termed vintage. If there are intact labels, you have a good chance of having something authentic.

  • Condition of the Wood or Metal Framework

Unless you are good with furniture and can restore your antiques, you want something that will hold up under normal use.

  • Check the Edges for Staining or Other Touch Ups

While there is nothing wrong with a refurbished item if you are just looking for household items, it could diminish the value of an antique. Check for signs of reupholstering.

Why Buy Antique or Vintage Chairs?

They make amazing accent chairs: Antique or vintage chairs are often what is left out of a set. Depending upon the chair, the artwork can be gorgeous. If you are going for simply vintage chairs, items such as vinyl chairs, Formica topped kitchen tables, Tiffany lamps or similar items can make a striking statement.

They can set the tone for your patio: Tubular lawn chairs with metal seats and backs are certainly vintage, and some might even be bordering on antique. You might even be able to find a set of them for your patio since the older ones are exceptionally durable. Genuine Adirondack chairs, the kind made of wood, create a rustic tone.

If you care for them carefully, they are an investment: While you always have to sell the item to realize value from it, genuine antiques will increase in rarity, not become more common.

Shopping for Antique and Vintage chairs is fun: Whether you are simply looking for that perfect chair to fill the blank spot in your favorite room or you are thinking about going into the antique business, shopping for antique and vintage furniture incorporates a sense of adventure and treasure hunting into your shopping.