How Much Are Antique Oak Frames Worth?

Written by susan ward
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How Much Are Antique Oak Frames Worth?
Many antique oak frames date from about 1880 to 1940 (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt)

Antique oak frames are often from the Arts and Crafts era, which is from the late 19th to the early 20th century. The Arts and Crafts era was a reaction against early industrialisation. Designers emphasised hand craftsmanship and simplicity, whether creating large furniture or small decorative accessories like picture frames.

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Basic Value

In 2009, most antique oak frames are valued from £13 to £97. The value of antique oak frames considers the following qualities: condition, thickness of wood, size and type of decoration. In addition, the original glass adds value to antique frames. You can discover antique oak frames at garage sales for a couple dollars. Alternatively, at an auction (and when emotions are involved), a simple antique oak frame might go for £195 or more.

Value Exceptions

A frame marked as made by Stickly, Roycroft or Limberts--the most recognised furniture makers of the Arts and Crafts era--might be priced at £325 or £650. There are also oak frames made during the late 19th or early 20th centuries that were not inspired by Arts and Crafts design, but earlier Victorian styles. These antique oak frames may be extremely elaborate and cost upwards of £650.

History

All furniture and home accessories, including picture frames, were handmade until the 19th century. Mechanisation began in America in the mid 19th century, and mass production became more important than design. As a reaction against mass production, the Arts and Crafts movement was born. Hand craftsmanship, simple motifs and a return to Gothic-inspired (fifth to 16th century) design underscored the Arts and Crafts era. Most oak frames made during this era were done in the Arts and Crafts style.

Design

Antique oak picture frames are often simple in shape with minimal decoration. Rectangular, square, round or oval, many Arts and Crafts frames had no embellishment at all. Decorated frames included small amounts of paint, gilding or carving. Some antique oak frames display a narrow row of beadwork--wooden strips of small round or oval shapes glued to the frame. Metal decorations or hangers are often brass or pewter.

Identification

Picture frames are often unmarked; you can identify antique oak frames like furniture. Look for evidence of wear such as stains or scratches. Unevenness or inexactness are signs of hand craftsmanship. Also, determine if the frame is glued together--frames with nails or screws are usually not antique. Old oak, warn through use and polish, has a soft lustre to it.

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