Buying Antique Furniture (Dining Tables)
Antique dining tables are amongst the most sought after antiques. That should be no surprise, after all, most people need a dining table. I will be dealing with formal antique dining tables, there will be a future articles on country farmhouse tables. The most expensive design of antique dining tables are those dating from the 1760s through to the early 1800s, which sit on rows of pillars. There are normally between two and four pillars in length. The pillars support additional leaves in the table, the more pillars the longer the length and desirability of the table. An example would be an antique twin pillar 1790s table. This would have a fixed leaf on each pedestal and with the support of lopers and clips could take an additional drop in leaf. The maximum length of a table like this would be approx 8 feet in length. I had an antique Georgian table of this type last year and sold it immediately.
The quality of timber at this period is generally very good. With the addition of more pillars these type of tables, can extend upto 20 feet in length. The antique dining tables more commonly seen today are extending dining tables, normally in mahogany. The earlier antique Georgian and Victorian dining tables had pull-out mechanisms. These are relatively simple, were the extends by pulling either end to allow more leaves to be used. Later Victorian antique dining tables had wind out mechanisms, which allowed antique Victorian dining tables to be opened, by the use of a winding handle. I have recently purchased a Georgian Antique mahogany dining table, with pull-out mechanism. The table is a good length at 112 inches long and has the benefit of retaining its original leaves. The quality of the table is superb and totally original throughout. It dates from 1820.
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Realistic prices for antique mahogany dining tables vary greatly. Key points in pricing are: originality, length, width, period, timber quality and colour. As a general rule the earlier the antique dining table, the better the timber is likely to be. Tables that still have all their original leaves are rare and much more valuable, than those with with replacement leaves. The width of the table is important, where people are sitting opposite each other, there should be adequate room in the centre of the table. Look for tables 48 inches or more in depth. A antique dining table that is 42 inches deep would be worth less than half that of an identical table that was 48 inches deep. The length is also important, with tables that sit 10 or more people very sought after. Rough price guide: Georgian pillar tables - £7,500 - £100,000 plus depending on the number of pillars/leaves and originality of table. Georgian pull-out tables - £5,000- £50,000 depending on length and condition Victorian pull-out and wind out tables - £3000-£20,000 again depending on length and condition. With all the price examples above, please be aware that exceptional timber, detailing, or provenance, can make any piece of antique furniture, worth dramatically more. This is a big subject that I will return to in a later article, but for an overview of the subject it may provide the prospective purchaser with some guidance.