Identifying Antique Drop Leaf Table Style & Value Guide

Do you want to do something with a small and empty corner at your home? Placing an antique drop-leaf table in your home is the perfect way to adorn a small space. But choosing one can be quite a challenge considering the variations in style and value.

These antique drop-leaf tables have been around for centuries and are usually sold for hundreds of dollars. So, it is crucial to learn a little about them before you set out on a hunt to purchase one for your home.

If you do not know how to identify and choose an antique drop-leaf table, worry not because we have got you covered. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about this beautiful piece of furniture, along with the tips to identify their styles and value so you can shop for one confidently!

So let’s start with the tips on identifying an antique drop-leaf table:

How to Identify an Antique Drop-Leaf Table?

The first antique drop-leaf table was manufactured back in the 17th century. And the reason for their continued popularity even in this era is their style and flexibility.

Such tables consist of a foldable corner section and a non-foldable middle section. The foldable section caused the table to be called a drop-leaf table.

Here are some tips to determine if the drop-leaf table you are viewing is actually antique or not:

  • The presence of a layer of patina is a must regardless of how well-kept an antique-drop leaf table is. This layer forms with time over the finishing of most kinds of furniture due to the stress and weather they may have had to endure all this time.
  • Until the early 18thcentury, saw marks on the furniture used to be straight. Later, they were circular. So, the table might have straight saw marks on its top if it belongs to the earlier periods.
  • Machine-made hinges, circular nails and screws are signs of a newly constructed piece of furniture. If the nails and screws are square-shaped, there is a high chance the drop-leaf table under your inspection is antique.

Watch this video to learn more tips to identify genuine wooden antiques:

How to Tell the Value of an Antique Drop-Leaf Table?

Several factors come into play when determining or calculating the value of an antique-drop-leaf table. Typically, antique drop-leaf tables are typically sold for anywhere between $200 to $2000.

Let’s have a look at all the things you need to consider before agreeing to pay or receive an amount in exchange for the table.

1. The Table’s Condition

One of the key determinant factors for antique drop-leaf table value is its condition. Since these tables consist of movable parts, it is critical that those parts function properly to buy or sell the table at a high price.

Here are a few things you can do to check the functionality of the foldable section:

  • The smoothness with which the leaves are raised or lowered.
  • The stability of the leaves while they are raised.
  • The originality and condition of the hardware.

Apart from this, the table below considers some characteristics of an antique drop-leaf table that might raise or lower its worth:

Increases the Value Decreases the Value
Original Finishing Refinishing
Signs of Age Deep Gouges
Solidness Scratches
Stable Cracks
Functional Repairs

2. The Table’s Size

Even though this is a given, large-sized drop-leaf tables cost much more than smaller ones. For instance, if you are looking to purchase a drop-leaf dining table, you should expect to pay more than you would if you decide to buy a drop-leaf side table instead.

3. Further Detailing and Features

You wouldn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for something that won’t catch the eye instantly, would you? So, look for features and detailing that make the drop-leaf table more attractive and worth the money. Some of such features are mentioned as follows:

High-quality, rare woods

Mahogany, cherry, and other beautiful woods can add to the worth of a table. This is particularly true for rare woods like quarter-sawn oak, American chestnut, and figured maple.

Here are some examples currently listed on eBay:

Design & Looks

Good-quality and well-preserved hand carvings on a drop-leaf table can also contribute greatly to its value. Similarly, hand-painted designs, inlaid decoration, and adornments like claw feet increase the price too.

Antique English Table Drop Leaf ($1475)
Antique English Table Drop Leaf ($1475) – eBay
Antique English Table Drop Leaf ($1475)
Antique Butterfly Drop Leaf Table ($875) – eBay

Let’s take these two antique drop leaf tables for example. Both belong to the same time period. However, the one with hand carvings is currently listed for $1475 and the plain one is listed for $895.

4. The Table’s Manufacturer

Some manufacturers, like Duncan Phyfe, may increase the worth of the table. Look under the table top for labels to see whether you might find any information on the maker.

5. The Age of the Table

Older tables are typically far more valuable than more recent ones. Examining the building and hardware of an antique drop-leaf table will help you determine the period in which it was made.

The table’s design may also provide some hints, as different designs were popular at different points in history.

So, What Is It That Makes An Antique Drop Leaf Table Valuable?

What features do all the table layouts mentioned above share? They are all crafted with a variety of designs, fine materials, inventive techniques, and aesthetic vision, and they all have a lengthy lifespan. The icing on the cake is that they are unique and expensive objects whose value appreciates over time. 

Consider your wants and value before excitedly buying an antique drop-leaf table. However, because it will survive longer than other furniture, spending a fortune on such furniture is like making an investment.

You should also be aware that things made of high-quality materials continue to appreciate in value. If you decide to redesign your interior later, you can sell it for a reasonable price.

How to Date a Drop Leaf Table?

It takes effort and keen observation to determine the age of an antique drop-leaf table. The only way to date a drop-leaf table is by looking at several elements that have been combined to form the piece of furniture.

Look closely at the amount of joinery, finishing, knob, and other efforts that went into making the furniture. Take a close look at the screws, fabric, and wood used. You might be able to determine if the table you are looking at is an antique and handmade piece or a machine-made imitation on your own if you take all these facts into account.

● Look Beyond a Piece’s Style

You can’t merely look at the furniture style to figure out how old a piece is. Over time, popular fashions were frequently copied, and some of these timeless looks are still produced today.

The general design, such as Chippendale, William, Mary, Queen Anne, or rococo revival, can offer a hint. However, it is not always accurate. After choosing a specific design, search for aging indicators that would confirm if the item is an antique or not.

● Check the Backs, Insides, and Bottoms

Check out the construction. Look inside a piece’s doors and drawers, as well as at the bottom or rear of it. This can offer crucial hints regarding whether an antique piece of furniture was produced by hand or machine.

The majority of handcrafted items will have some surface flaws, such as tiny nicks from hand planes used to even out the wood. These nicks can occasionally be more noticeable on the rear than on the completed front surface.

Work that appears overly even or flawless was probably cut or created with a machine. The majority of manufactured items were created following the Industrial Revolution, from 1860 onwards.

● Look for Elements that Match Up Perfectly

The shape of small matching components on antiques, such as wooden chair spindles, drawer knobs, or feet on a range of items, may vary somewhat. This would imply that they were made by hand before 1860.

Furniture that is manufactured will have parts that fit together more precisely than furniture built by hand. Without the aid of machinery, it is nearly impossible to produce identical furniture components repeatedly.

● Try to Determine the Tools that May Have Been Used to Craft the Table

Woods were typically left with some form of an uneven surface when smoothed with hand planes. This is particularly noticeable on the rear or bottom of items created before the mid-1800s.

Cuts and scratches in the wood were caused by hand chisels and other instruments used for wood shaping with some elbow grease.

Circular patterns are typically left behind as proof when circular saws were employed, which wasn’t common until the middle of the 19th century. In contrast, the pattern left by manually driven hand saws was straighter.

A piece of handcrafted furniture does not automatically qualify as an antique. Even now, furniture is still made by hand. Machine-produced evidence does, however, help you to understand better the period of time the piece of wood could not have been constructed.

● Inspect the Wood and the Material of the Upholstery

Although these are significant hints, it can be challenging to tell what kind of wood or polish was used on a piece of furniture. Various furniture eras each have their preferred wood choices.

For instance, oak was predominantly utilized to create furniture before 1700. Mahogany and walnut became increasingly popular after 1700. As the 1800s wore on, maple and cherry appeared rather frequently in the creation of beautiful furniture.

Victorian furniture manufacturers widely employed mahogany and rosewood in the late 1800s. The popularity of oak then rose once more about 1900.

The type of wood chosen is not a precise age indicator, but when you combine it with other elements, such as design and building method, you begin to understand the piece’s age better.

Spun and woven into a range of damasks, satins, and brocades with many distinct designs were classic upholstery fabrics like silk, wool, or cotton. Throughout history, upholstery has embraced a wide range of fabrics and material styles.

● Inspect the Screws and Other Hardware Components

Examine the screws well. Machines didn’t entirely manufacture screws until 1848. Therefore, if you discover a piece of furniture that uses screws with totally rounded shafts, pointy ends, and precisely finished heads with matching cuts (similar to a screw you would buy today), the object probably goes back to the middle of the nineteenth century or beyond.

From roughly 1812 to the middle of the 1800s, screws were partially machine-made, which gave the drilling a smoother appearance. No two heads are exactly the same because the groove for a screwdriver was added after the heads were finished using hacksaws.

Blacksmiths created the first screws in the 1700s from hexagonal nail stock that had been heated and pounded to a rough roundness. The tips were blunt, and they were all different.

If you discover these hand-finished screws in furniture, look into other facets of the pieces to see if their appearance suggests that they are similar in age to the screws. Brass hardware is a component that is equally out of date.

Early 18th-century gear was produced by casting molten brass in sand molds. This hardware frequently contains sand grain inclusions, sand grain markings, or strange hues from impurities.

These pockmarks were frequently left on the hardware’s backs while the polished surfaces on the outside were present. Brass from the first half of the 19th century also has a coarse polish and threading.

Brass hardware was rarely employed in the production of furniture from the 1830s to the Eastlake era in the 1880s. If the drop-leaf antique table you are looking at has brass, it was probably made before 1830 or was part of a revival piece from the late 1800s.

Variety in the Antique Drop-Leaf Table Styles

As it is quite evident by now, even if the phrase “drop-leaf table” is self-explanatory, none of them are exactly similar to each other. While some of them have one, others have two drop-leaves. They come in a variety of sizes and forms if you visit the market.

This enables you to choose the best one for your home. So, we have compiled some designs in antique drop-leaf table styles that you might find when you visit thrift stores and flea markets, or even online sites such as eBay in search of one!

1. Wall-Mounted and Functional Drop-Leaf Table

Indeed, functionality and aesthetics are equally important. Therefore, pay attention to the style you want before taking factors such as finish, accessories, etc., into account. Do you prefer an adjustable table or a high desk?

Antique English Oak Drop Leaf ($1,245)
Antique English Oak Drop Leaf ($1,245) – eBay

A wall-mounted desk is a great option for compact places like your bedroom. While occupying any substantial space, you can use it as additional counter space. If you don’t need any chairs in the kitchen, this kind of construction is really helpful.

2. Compact Antique Drop-Leaf Table

What distinguishes furniture as antique, except the aging patina? For many of you, the furniture’s quality and size are the most crucial considerations. A table’s sturdy and high-quality construction can beautifully enhance your space.

You can avoid having to pay for costly repairs and replacements by using high-quality materials. Due to its small size, the table will occupy  little room with a simple yet stylish appearance.

You can get a table with a rectangular top and an oval or round drop-leaf. Such side drops will enable you to subtly provide more seating for your visitors when you host an event at your place.

Antique Drop Leaf Side Table ($295)
Antique Drop Leaf Side Table ($295) – eBay

3. Expandable Antique Drop-Leaf Table

Your money is well spent on a sturdy antique table with a good finish. A cherry polish and an antique design go together wonderfully. A nice extensible table can give your space an exquisite appearance. The table can be set up in your kitchen or as a feature of your living area.

Some people prefer combining the living and dining rooms by extending the table between them. Large families would like this fully extended table design. Without moving any large furniture pieces, they can play games or dine and drink at the same table.

Solid Mahogany English Drop Leaf Table with One Drawer
Source:Solid Mahogany English Drop Leaf Table with One Drawer (Etsy) – $342.50

4. An Antique Drop-Leaf Coffee Table

In a quaint nook, an antique drop-leaf table provides excellent resistance. The best aspect is that setting up this table won’t pose any problem for you. It can be set up in the kitchen, before the windows, or in the living area.

However, you’ll find that a lot of people pair this table with a couch bench to make a cozier coffee table. This set-up is suitable for working, having coffee, and casual seating. As a result, you may always add extra chairs to make the most of them.

1920s Antique Regency Style Mahogany Drop Leaf Coffee Table
1920s Antique Regency Style Mahogany Drop Leaf Coffee Table (eBay) – $1190

5. Convertible and Flexible Antique Drop-Leaf Table

Some of these tables are easily convertible, so that you may use them as a console, a desk, or a dining table. The best thing about their convertible design is how incredibly versatile it is.

After the side leaves are dropped, only a few centimeters are added to the center region. You may arrange it neatly behind any couch, wall, or cupboard.

Even though each convertible drop-leaf table is unique in the construction of its frame, most convertibles have straightforward and highly practical structural designs. This antique-table style is readily available in stores and is offered in weathered oak, black finishes, and powder-coated metals.

Antique English Georgian Cuban Mahogany Drop Leaf Pembroke
Antique English Georgian Cuban Mahogany Drop Leaf Pembroke (eBay) – $1986.85

6. Round Antique Drop-Leaf Table

Drop-leaf tables often have an elliptical shape with a square center. Though it also comes in a circular shape, this kind of design is very useful. Consequently, a circular table is more attractive and adaptable.

Consider getting a folding table if your objective goes beyond simply clearing some space in your room. You can also add a chic round chandelier to go with your round table. If you extend the table, this layout will appear fantastic; so you should reevaluate it in light of your arrangements.

Antique Vintage Wood Drop Leaf Table
Antique Vintage Wood Drop Leaf Table (eBay) – $595

What to Know Before Buying Antique Drop-Leaf Tables?

If you have a keen eye and are persistent, you may equip your home at a fair price if you’re ready to purchase and restore troubled antiques. Even if it takes a lot of labor, eventually, you can have a showpiece home with exquisite antique drop-leaf tables that you can only find there.

So to help you out, here are our top 3 expert buying tips for an antique drop-leaf table:

  • Shop From the Right Place

The antiquities market operates on the same principles of supply and demand as all other markets. You already know what you want, but the trick is to discover the appropriate seller with the ideal table, particularly for you.

Be open to investigating many sources to find this table. Search online for classified ads, peruse thrift shops, utilize lawn signs and social media to find garage sales, sign with auctioneers (including those online, like eBay), and stop by antique shops to look at their stock.

You allow yourself the possibility to be introduced to a bigger selection of antiques and raise your chances of finding the ideal table by covering these numerous potential sources.

  • Online Vs. Physical Shopping

Whether you purchase antiques offline or online, it matters. A table antique can be thoroughly examined in person to check for flaws, blemishes, or genuineness. However, shopping online requires a different strategy.

Yet, you can still do a fairly thorough “virtual” check. Just make sure to look at them closely and enlarge them when you can to see the details of the table.

  • Buy a Table that Blends in with Your Interior

Ensure the table will suit your style and what you are attempting to achieve with the design of a certain area if you are purchasing it for your use rather than as an item of merchandise to restore and then resell.

To determine whether this latest arrival will genuinely fit, take into account the overall design.

Conclusion

As a result of its scarcity and sturdy construction, antique drop-leaf tables are highly desirable in the furniture market. We have covered every important aspect of the table that will aid you in selecting the best one for your home.

So, let us know in the comment section below how helpful this guide was for choosing the perfect antique drop-leaf table for your household.

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