How to determine the age of antique furniture? Antique furniture can add character, history, and value to any space. If you’ve inherited an antique piece or are looking to purchase one, determining its age is an important first step.

Dating antique furniture can be challenging for the novice collector, but there are some tips and tricks you can use to confidently determine when a piece was made.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Look for markers like wood type, joinery, hardware, and style to get clues about when the antique furniture was constructed. Research the piece using reference books and online guides.

Identify hallmarks, labels, or signatures that indicate the manufacturer and date.

Learn How to Identify Different Furniture Eras and Styles

How To Determine The Age Of Antique Furniture

Antique furniture holds a charm and beauty that is often unmatched by modern pieces. If you’re a fan of antique furniture, one of the key skills to develop is the ability to determine its age. Being able to identify different furniture eras and styles can help you accurately date and appreciate the value of antique pieces.

Below, we’ll explore some of the most popular furniture eras and styles, including Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco.

Georgian (1714-1830s)

Georgian side board

The Georgian era, named after the British monarchs George I, II, III, and IV, spanned from 1714 to the 1830s. Georgian furniture is known for its elegance, simplicity, and classical influences. The most common wood types used during this era were mahogany, walnut, and oak.

Georgian furniture often features straight lines, symmetry, and intricate details such as carvings and inlays. A key characteristic of Georgian furniture is the use of cabriole legs, which are curved and end in a decorative foot.

Victorian (1837-1901)

Victorian style Chair

The Victorian era, named after Queen Victoria, lasted from 1837 to 1901. Victorian furniture is known for its ornate and eclectic style. During this era, industrialization led to the mass production of furniture, resulting in a wide range of styles and designs.

Common materials used in Victorian furniture include rosewood, mahogany, and walnut. Victorian furniture often features elaborate carvings, curved lines, and rich upholstery. The use of floral and natural motifs is also prevalent in Victorian pieces.

Edwardian (1901-1910)

Edwardian chair

The Edwardian era, named after King Edward VII, lasted from 1901 to 1910. Edwardian furniture is characterized by its lighter and more delicate design compared to the preceding Victorian era. The use of lighter woods such as satinwood and mahogany became popular during this time.

Edwardian furniture often features graceful curves, tapered legs, and delicate inlays. Influences from the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements can also be seen in Edwardian furniture.

Art Deco (1920s-1930s)

Art Deco Style

The Art Deco era, which emerged in the 1920s and lasted until the 1930s, is known for its sleek and modern style. Art Deco furniture is characterized by its geometric shapes, streamlined forms, and use of luxurious materials such as chrome, glass, and exotic woods.

This era marked a departure from the heavy ornamentation of previous eras, embracing a more minimalist and futuristic aesthetic. Art Deco furniture often features bold colors, mirrored surfaces, and angular designs.

By familiarizing yourself with the distinguishing features of different furniture eras and styles, you’ll be better equipped to determine the age and value of antique furniture. Remember to consider factors such as materials used, design elements, and the historical context of each era.

Examine the Materials and Construction

When learning how to determine the age of antique furniture, one of the first things to look at is the materials and construction. By examining these aspects, you can get valuable clues about when the piece was made and its overall quality. Here are three key factors to consider:

Wood Type

Wood Type Material

The type of wood used in the construction of the furniture can provide important information about its age. Different types of wood were popular during different periods, so knowing which woods were commonly used during a particular era can help you narrow down the age of the piece.

For example, mahogany was often used in furniture made during the 18th century, while oak and walnut were popular choices in the 19th century. Make sure you learn as much as you can about different wood types to easily determine the age of antique furniture.


The way the furniture is joined together can also offer insights into its age. Different joinery techniques were used during different periods, and these techniques evolved.

Dovetail Joints

For example, dovetail joints were commonly used in furniture made during the 18th and early 19th centuries, while machine-cut or stamped joints became more prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

By examining the joinery, you can get a better idea of when the piece was likely made.


The hardware used on the furniture can also provide clues about its age. Pay attention to the style and design of the hinges, handles, and other metal components. Different styles of hardware were popular during different periods, so finding hardware that matches a specific era can help in determining the age of the piece.

Additionally, the quality of the hardware can indicate the overall quality of the furniture. High-quality, finely crafted hardware is often a sign of a well-made and older piece.

For more in-depth information and visual examples of how to determine the age of antique furniture based on materials and construction, you can visit The Spruce Crafts. They provide detailed guides and resources to help you become an expert in identifying different wood types, joinery techniques, and hardware styles.

Look for Markings and Labels

Antique furniture marking

When trying to determine the age of antique furniture, one of the first things to look for is any markings or labels. These can provide valuable clues about the origin and age of the piece. Here are two common types of markings and labels to keep an eye out for:

Manufacturer’s Marks

Many antique furniture pieces will have a manufacturer’s mark or stamp somewhere on the piece. These marks can be found on the back, underside, or inside of drawers. They often include the name or initials of the manufacturer, as well as other identifying information such as a location or date.

By researching these marks, you can often determine the period in which the piece was made and potentially even find information about the manufacturer’s history.

One great resource for researching manufacturer’s marks is, which provides a comprehensive database of marks from various countries and periods. This website can help you determine the age of antique furniture.

Paper Labels

Another type of marking to look for on antique furniture is paper labels. These labels may be attached to the back or underside of the piece and can provide valuable information about the manufacturer, retailer, or even the original owner.

Paper labels can include the name of the manufacturer, the location of the manufacturer or retailer, and sometimes even a date, all of this information will help you to determine the age of antique furniture.

It’s important to note that paper labels can sometimes be missing or damaged, so they may not always be present on antique furniture. However, if you do find a paper label, it can be a helpful tool in determining the age of the piece.

It’s worth mentioning that not all antique furniture will have markings or labels, especially if the piece is very old or has been refinished. In these cases, other methods such as examining the construction techniques, materials used, and the overall style of the piece can help in determining its age.

Consult Reference Materials

When trying to determine the age of antique furniture, it is important to consult reference materials that can provide valuable insights. These resources can help you identify specific styles, and makers, and even provide information about the period when the furniture was produced.

Here are some reference materials that can be helpful:

Style Guides

Furniture style guides

Style guides are an excellent resource for understanding the various furniture styles that were popular during different periods. They provide detailed descriptions and images of furniture designs, making it easier for you to compare and identify the style of the antique piece you are examining.

Some popular style guides include “The Illustrated Guide to Antiques” by Judith Miller and “Antique Style Guide” by Rachael Field.

Maker’s Marks Resources

Many antique furniture pieces bear maker’s marks or stamps that can provide important clues about their age and origin. These marks are typically found on the underside or back of the furniture. By consulting maker’s marks resources, such as books or online databases, you can learn more about specific furniture makers and the periods during which they were active.

One useful resource is the “Encyclopedia of American Furniture: The History of American Furniture Makers” by Joseph T. Butler.

Online Databases

How to determine the age of antique furniture in the digital age? Utilize online databases that have become invaluable tools for researching and identifying antique furniture. Websites like and provide access to vast collections of antique furniture listings, including detailed images, descriptions, and historical information.

These databases allow you to search for specific styles, and makers and even compare similar pieces to determine their age.

By consulting these reference materials, you can enhance your knowledge and improve your ability to accurately determine the age of antique furniture. Remember, it is important to cross-reference information from multiple sources to ensure accuracy and reliability.

How To Determine The Age Of Antique Furniture – Summary

With some detective work and research, you can confidently determine the age of antique furniture. Focus on distinguishing stylistic and construction details, looking for identifying marks or labels, and consulting available reference materials.

Dating antique pieces takes some work, but the reward is getting to know the story behind your vintage furnishings.

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