Are you looking to purchase an antique chair? Antique chairs can be an excellent investment due to their historical significance. But how does one judge the value of an antique chair? Does older mean more expensive?
If these questions are on your mind, you are in the right place. We will review each factor used to determine an antique chair’s value and give plenty of examples. After reading our guide, you’ll be able to judge the value of any antique chair accurately according to the current market.
Many say that only two factors affect the value of any antique chair, namely its age and style. But we believe this is misleading as other factors also play important roles.
Antique Chairs Value Guide
Many factors can influence the value of an antique chair. Some think that the older the chair, the higher the price, but that is not always the case. Several variables must be considered, including the wood used, upholstery material, lining, hardware, and overall craftsmanship. We will take an in-depth look at all these factors. First, let us answer the most asked question regarding antique chairs.
How to tell the age of an antique chair?
Some believe it is impossible to determine an antique chair’s age simply by observing it. These people are completely wrong. Not only is it possible to determine the age of an antique chair, but it is also quite easy if you know what to look for. Don’t worry this skill does not require much time to learn and will help you immensely when buying an antique chair.
Many vintage furniture manufacturers used paper and metal labels to mark the final product. You can determine when a piece was manufactured by examining these marks. It is possible that the date was stamped to indicate the year of manufacture. However, these marks become more and more difficult to find as the piece ages.
If the vintage chair doesn’t have an original tag, stamp, or stencil pattern, turn it upside down and check. There’s a chance the artisan may have written their name somewhere under the seat. If you find a name, you should look it up. You might find some interesting and helpful information about who crafted the chairs. A tag with a website will quickly eliminate all ancient traces.
A key determinant in construction is balance. During the industrial revolution, precision cutting tools became more commonly used. Hand-crafted pieces have asymmetrical features, which can tell you more about their age. Throughout the centuries, artists have employed spectacular ways of joining pieces of wood without using nails or screws. Traditional joints were used for attaching the seat. A skilled hand could even use box or dovetail joints.
If you see Philips screw heads, you’ll know that the piece is much more modern. Alternatively, a flat head screw can indicate age. But besides hardware and fastening methods used, famous furniture makers may be recognized by looking at the finer details in the design. Each famous artisan imbued their individuality in their works of art.
Many different wood types have been used to build furniture throughout the generations. Wood type is another method to narrow down your chair’s age. This is because many artisans preferred one type of wood over the others. The African hardwoods of Amboyna are native to tropical Southeast Asia. Their hues range from golden brown to brick red, and they were often used in furniture with high standards of antique craftsmanship.
When purchasing an antique chair, you should look at the materials used. Before importation and trade, furniture makers only had local resources. This logic allows us to determine the age of antique furniture based on the materials used to make it. These materials can include seat filling, covering, and finish materials.
Fabric is not always sufficient to determine the age of an antique chair. The owner may have restored the chair by changing the upholstery. It is always useful to look for patterns of wear. Vintage upholstery mostly has floral patterns or embroidery inspired by nature. It would be best if you understood that furniture fabrics follow fashion trends. If you see a modern design on an antique piece, you should be hesitant.
The filling material provides cushioning for a comfortable sitting experience. The material used for this filling has evolved over the years. Antique furniture typically has materials such as horsehair, hay, and cotton. Some younger pieces may include feathers as well. In the modern age, all these materials have been replaced by synthetic foam.
Antique Chair Styles
Age is not the only factor you should consider. The value of an antique chair correlates quite well with its style. Therefore, we have compiled the top designs for antique chairs sold frequently in the market. We have also gathered each style’s price based on current market conditions. Every style is presented in chronological order starting from the oldest. Before making a purchase, you should try and match the piece with the styles mentioned below to establish a good baseline.
The Elizabethan style was popular from 1520 to 1620. These chairs are hard to come by as few have survived the ages. It is a good sign if your Elizabethan chair is not in great condition. Most chairs from this era are in museums, but some pieces come up for auction often. This scarcity has increased the value of these chairs significantly in the past few years.
- Set of 8 English Elizabethan Dining chairs – listed for $3,450 on eBay.
The Early American style was popular from 1640 to 1700. This era produced some of the most iconic designs of furniture. This design has a carved seat for comfortable sitting and angled legs. The value of Early American chairs can vary greatly, but an authentic piece will fetch at least a few hundred dollars.
- Early American Antique Side Chair – listed for $1,125 on eBay.
- Early American Country Arm Chair – listed for $395 on eBay.
The Carolean or Restoration style was popular from 1660 to 1685. Furniture from this era is rarely available in the market in this day and age. Similar to Elizabethan chairs, these have also increased in value recently due to their scarcity. You will likely only see these chairs at auctions or in a museum. If you purchase a Carolean chair, make sure it is authentic. Due to their high value, there are many imitations and replicas in the market.
- 10 Carolean Dining Chairs suite – listed for $7,170 on eBay.
Queen Anne Chairs
The Queen Anne style was popular from 1720 to 1760 during Queen Anne’s reign. This style is often categorized as a fancy chair because of its embroidered patterns and curved design. There are a lot of Queen Anne chairs available in the market, but they have retained their value due to the high demand. These chairs are a great starting point if you want to add antique chairs to your collection.
- 18th Century Queen Anne Side Chair – listed for $769 on eBay.
- Pair of Queen Anne Style Chairs – listed for $2,300 on eBay.
The Rococo style was popular from 1730 to 1770. This style is characterized by its classical simplicity. These chairs have a distinctly royal look due to intricate carvings and ornamentation. This design has elegance, and many collectors believe that Rococo chairs will retain interest and value for years to come. The value of these chairs fluctuates, but you can buy a Rococo chair in good condition for around $500.
- Antique Rococo Side Chair – listed for $525 on eBay.
- Pair of 1900s Vintage Rococo Chairs – listed for $1000 on eBay.
The Chippendale chair was popular in the late 18th century. Thomas Chippendale invented this style, which is easily recognizable due to its gothic look. The design is quite polarizing, and you may not like it. Therefore, we recommend looking at the piece in person before deciding to buy a Chippendale. These chairs are also very valuable in today’s market. In good condition, they sell for around $500.
- Antique Chippendale Carved Chair – listed for $399 on eBay.
- 19th Century Antique Chippendale Chair – listed for $936 on eBay.
The Shaker chair was popular from 1787 to 1860. It is truly a timeless design due to its simplicity and functionality. The natural wooden framework is beloved by many. These chairs have no carvings or ornaments but can still be valuable. The shaker design has made a comeback in recent years. These chairs have a simple varnish finish, bringing out the wood grain pattern.
- 19th Century Shaker Style Chair – listed for $199 on eBay.
- Antique Shaker Rocking Chair – listed for $215 on eBay.
The Sheraton style was popular from 1790 to 1820. Its distinguishing feature is the low back which gives this style a unique look. These chairs also had upholstered seats and intricate carvings. The design may look simple, but it holds historical significance. This history is why Sheraton chairs are sought after by many collectors.
- Rosewood Sheraton Chesterfield Armchair – listed for $883 on eBay.
- Set of 4 Sheraton Carved Mahogany Chairs – listed for $2,828 on eBay.
The American Empire style was popular from 1805 to 1830. This style resembles the Queen Anne style but is not as valuable. These chairs have carved splats and curved legs. The upholstery usually has floral patterns, which can drive away some people. The demand for this style is low, and chairs mostly sell for around $200.
- 6 American Empire Vintage Chairs – listed for $999 on eBay.
- 19th Century American Empire Mahogany Chair – listed for $535 on eBay.
The Victorian style was popular from 1830 to 1900. This design has a similar aesthetic to the Rococo style but is more compact. The legs are straight, and there is not much carving or ornamentation. These chairs are very affordable and sell for around $250. However, these chairs are not preferred by collectors due to low demand in the market.
- Antique Victorian Folding Chair – listed for $315 on eBay.
- Victorian Dark Wood Spindle Chair – listed for $295 on eBay.
Arts and Crafts
The Arts and Crafts style was popular from 1880 to 1910. If you want a minimal look, the Arts and Crafts design will be right up your alley. These chairs are never upholstered, and they have a simple varnish finish. Despite their simple design, these chairs are valuable in the current market. In good condition, they can cost anywhere from $400 to $700.
- Arts and Crafts Style Antique Wooden Chair – listed for $498 on eBay.
- Pair of Arts and Crafts Style Chairs – listed for $695 on eBay.
The Art Nouveau style was popular from 1880 to 1910. This style can be recognized by its iconic curves and padded back. The back legs are often curved, and there are rarely any carved or decorative pieces. Chairs from this era look modern, and only a few collectors see potential. This design’s price is very unpredictable as they can sell anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
- Antique Chair in Art Nouveau Style – listed for $147 on eBay.
- Art Nouveau Carved Wood Chair from the 1900s – listed for $1200 on eBay.
The Edwardian style was popular from 1901 to 1910. Many consider this style valuable, and the chairs of this era can sell for thousands of dollars. Similar chairs in the Victorian style are much more affordable. You may prefer the intricate carvings on an Edwardian chair, but they will cost you. The design has a minimalist nature with beautiful curves that are hard to find in any other style.
- Antique Edwardian Oak Chair Green Velour – listed for $683 on eBay.
- Antique English Edwardian Leather Arm Chair – listed for $1054 on eBay.
The Art Deco style was popular from 1925 to 1940. Art Deco chairs are a great choice if you are on a budget as there is not a lot of demand for these chairs. For some, the design looks too modern to be considered an antique. You can easily get a good pair of Art Deco chairs for under $200. Collectors do not bid on these chairs, which is why they remain affordable.
- Vintage Art Deco Aluminum Chair – listed for $75 on eBay.
- Art Deco Upholstered Walnut Arm Chair – listed for $275 on eBay.
This style was popular from 1933 to 1965. The identifying mark of this design is its low profile. The tub chair is also a variant of the Mid-Century Modern style. Due to mass production, these chairs do not hold much value in the current market. You may even have a few Mid-Century Modern chairs in your house. If you like the style, we recommend going to your local furniture store and buying a new chair rather than an antique that may not hold its value.
- Scandinavian Mid Century Modern Teak and Rope Chair – listed for $125 on eBay.
- Vintage Mid Century Modern Folding Slat Chair Set – listed for $38.99 on eBay.
There are also many other types of antique chairs. These include Tub chairs, Windsor chairs, and klismos chairs. These styles do not have much bearing on the value of the chairs and most often reflect personal preference.
The yoke back chair, corner chair, and morris chair were also some unique chair designs. Most collectors do not prefer buying something that has a very niche market. This low demand is why these designs are more affordable. The morris chair may be of note as it is the predecessor to the modern recliner.
Other factors also impact the value of an antique chair. A chair by the famous furniture maker George Hepplewhite will be worth more than one made by some unknown factory. Always try to determine the origin of the piece before purchasing.
The following YouTube video also has many helpful tips about establishing value for an antique chair:
Antique Chairs Buying Tips
If you are new to the market, always buy antique chairs from a reputed seller. A local antique shop is a good option, but you should ask them about the history of each chair. Good sellers will never dodge your questions or try to change the subject.
Learning to spot fakes may be time-consuming, but it’s worth it. Spend some time researching each week and try to authenticate pieces. With time you will improve your ability to spot fakes, allowing you to buy with confidence.
It may be worth checking out the local flea market or garage sale if you know what to look for. Most people are unaware of the value of antique chairs. This ignorance is why you can find amazing deals if you are patient.
Always try to look for similar pieces sold online before making your purchase. This practice will help you establish a good baseline price. If you cannot find visually similar pieces, try to find a piece from the same manufacturer or era.
You can also watch this YouTube video for more tips about finding the age of an antique chair:
Antique Chairs Selling Tips
If you want an expert’s opinion on the value of your antique chair, there are many online valuation services available. For your convenience, we have listed some of the most trusted ones below.
An antique shop is also a good option to get a baseline valuation. Many antique shops have experts that can tell you more about your piece and its history. We recommend looking up a local antique shop and visiting them. There is no downside to this option, and who knows, maybe you’ll learn some important details about your piece.
Remember that you won’t always get an offer representative of the actual value of your antique chair. If you are uncomfortable selling your piece at the offered price, you should try to get multiple appraisals. These will help you when establishing the market price for your antique chair.
Waiting is also a good option as the market price of antique chairs changes frequently. Interest in antique chairs is rising, and prices will follow the same pattern. Always be patient and do not make haste. The right offer may be right around the corner.
We hope you found our full guide on determining the value of antique chairs useful. We are aware that it is difficult to remember every factor. For this reason, we have summarized the most important factors below.
● Age Matters
The age of an antique chair is highly correlated with its value in the current market. This high value is because age relates to scarcity. Not many Elizabethan and Carolean chairs have survived over the years, making them valuable. But it would be best if you never favored age over the condition. Always buy pieces that will last, as nothing is worse than losing your antique to someone accidentally sitting on it.
● Learn Antique Chair Styles
We believe the style of an antique chair has much more bearing on its value than any other factor. The style of a chair can tell you a lot about its history and perhaps even its age. It is possible to determine a chair’s value based solely on its style and condition. Therefore, you should learn how to identify antique chairs correctly.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below. Do let us know which factor you prefer when estimating the value of an antique chair.