Whether you’re leaving the nest for the first time or upgrading to an epic bachelor pad, buying vintage furniture will cross just about every man’s mind.
Some will consider it for the affordability factor whilst for the aesthetically inclined, it’s also about nabbing something special which exudes unique character.
Buying vintage furniture is never just a walk in the park though. With millions of cheap copies floating around as the real deal, it can often be impossible to tell if you’re about to drop large on a dud piece. We sat down with Vampt Vintage Design‘s Andrew Brown to discuss the do’s and don’ts of buying vintage furniture so that you don’t get ripped off.
Pull in an Eames chair and listen up, men.
Where To Buy Vintage Furniture
According to the experts, major cities in Australia aren’t the only places to go hunting for vintage furniture.
Head out into affluent residential areas with a larger ageing population who are looking to downsize and you could also come across some nice finds to rival the extensive range that major city stores offer. That’s not to say that the major cities are no good, but it is crucial to do your research and know what you’re actually looking for.
Going online is usually a no-brainer for some but Andrew Brown of Vampt Vintage Designs says that you need to be able to identify it properly as it’s all about buyer beware.
“Look for original manufacturer markings. If you’re not buying from an official dealer, it’s very hard to know. There’s a lot of junk out there so if you’re a novice and you know what you want but don’t know how to identify it then the trusted dealers are the better options,” he says.
Additionally he points to educating yourself prior with a visit to the Authentic Design Alliance, an Australian collective of designers who have banded together to fight stolen designs and cheap replicas of the real deal. Brown also says that Melbourne is a city which has a strong vintage furniture market so if you’re looking online or in store, keep an eye on the stuff coming out of that area.
Telling The Difference Between Real & Fake
Research and knowledge is the only key between telling the difference between a real and fake piece. A simple Google image search of the real thing in high resolution will allow you to spot tell tale details on a vintage piece which fakes often can’t or won’t bother replicating.
Mid-century furniture is often meticulously made to high standards and the frames are pretty robust, so if you’re seeing a piece in person make sure to sit on it and move around a bit. Listen out for squeaks, sagging or any cracking noises. Scratches, tears and scuff marks aren’t too much of an issue as they can easily be repaired but the structural integrity of the piece is something that should never be compromised.
Also take note of what the authentic piece comes in with regards to materials and colours. If it’s the same design but the manufacturer never released it in that particular colour, then the odds are it’s a no-goer.
Brown chimes in and says that if the particular seller has a retail shopfront, they should know what they’re doing.
If It Looks Too Good To Be True…
Price is often irrelevant when it comes to spotting a fake. The questions a man should be asking instead is the history of the piece itself. Who the designer is, the year it was made, past owners and so on. Brown concurs and says that “big price tags don’t mean anything.”
“We can identify it down to the year it was made based on the age of the leather.”
Additionally, use your intuition. If something doesn’t look right, it’s probably not, so overlook the fact on how cool it may look in your bedroom and focus on the quality of the piece itself.
Use The Experts
If all else fails, give the experts a call as they’ll know exactly what’s junk out there. Trusted dealers aren’t only there to sell vintage furniture but can also educate you on not getting ripped off. If they have the same piece in store, go in and take a look to see what the standard should be. It could turn out to be a case of paying a bit more in store which will save you a massive headache and lost money later on down the track.