Everything you need to know about authenticating vintage furniture

For anyone new to the world of vintage furniture, this can seem like an intimidating space to explore. So many dealers appeared on the scene during the pandemic as demand for furniture increased. As this market continues to grow, the education gap will also widen. An overwhelming amount of replicas and fools have arrived, adding another layer of stress to the vintage furniture shopping experience. No one wants to get ripped off.

I’m always inclined to support buying originals or authenticated reproductions, but it can be difficult when you’re on a tighter spending budget. The reseller market makes this even more complicated as the prices are often still high for replicas. Granted, we’ve all seen Cesca style chairs and fake Togos resold at absurd prices that are considerably lower than the originals but still expensive. (“Made in Italy” stickers are the new “Made in China” stamp.) But some dealers are not honest about whether a part is genuine or not, although it is not difficult to add descriptors such as “frequently assigned to”, “like” or “commonly confused with” to a list.

Earlier this year, I was determined to find a Wassily chair. It was on my wishlist since I visited Bauhaus Dessau for a work trip in 2018, and I couldn’t forget Marcel Breuer’s iconic seat. After too long a night of browsing Instagram, I quickly realized that many of the versions that buyers were selling were actually not genuine but still at a premium price. While I couldn’t afford to drop $ 3,000 to Mound, I didn’t want to pay close to $ 800 for a fake. A few months ago, I probably wouldn’t have known the difference, however. (I learned my lesson after making the mistake of buying a Murano mushroom lamp, not realizing that I should have been looking for Vetri Venini stickers all the time.)

So I was surprised when one night I stumbled across a vegan leather Wassily style chair for sale at Target, Home deposit, and Walmart. Price for Studio BaxtonThe “Jericho Modern Accent Chairs” varied, but were all under $ 500. I never thought I would see this style at these retailers for such an affordable price. The lowest selling price was $ 313.37, including a three-year warranty from Target, an intriguing offer I couldn’t refuse, so I decided to order it in May. A few weeks later I found a pair of my dream dining chairs, the MR armless chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for Knoll, for a price within my budget and I was shocked that they actually had original stickers on the bottom.

In September, the account @designwithincopy called Kylie Jenner for allegedly having fake Pierre Paulin coins at Kylie Cosmetics HQ– the irony is that even someone at the highest level of fame could be duped without knowing it. I couldn’t help but wonder what we are really pay when we don’t buy the real thing, not in terms of craftsmanship but in the wider cultural sense. Is this really is it worth it if it’s not the real thing while you’re still being charged hundreds (or thousands) of dollars?


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About Oscar L. Smith

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