Art Deco style is just arriving in the market of antiques, as it is nearing 100 years old. Art Deco furniture appeared as early as 1900 in Austria with Wiener Werkstatte or Vienna Workshops embracing Arts and Crafts and Art Deco, according to the Metropolitan Museum Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Art Deco stole the scene at the 1925 Paris Exposition, and consumers worldwide embraced the furniture and architecture until World War II. Art Deco furniture used man-made veneers and inlays, chrome and Bakelite in geometric shapes with little adornment. Some of the man-made products served the public well, while others damaged easily and went to the landfill within just a few years. Style, condition, desirability and maker establish value of furniture from the Art Deco era.
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Check the condition of the piece. Veneers that have chipped or warped from water are probably the most significant condition problem with Art Deco furniture. Check the furniture legs for damage or replacement. Legs were often veneer, too, and usually show more wear than other areas of Art Deco furniture. Mirrors, also popular, may have flakes missing from the back.
Look at quality. Handmade pieces from the period bring record prices, particularly with provenance or history documentation. Furniture from quality manufacturers brings high prices if the condition is exceptional. A mass-produced piece of Art Deco furniture is available to today’s consumer for less than similar new pieces at retail.
Consider the style and artistry. Some Art Deco furniture just speaks the language of the era of machine-made materials and geometric designs. Pieces with unusual man-made products such as tiles or Egyptian-influenced design have special appeal to the collector. Desirability increases value.
Look online and in collectibles malls for similar pieces. Once you have studied the condition, quality, style and artistry of a piece of Art Deco furniture, you are ready to look at prices. Be aware that prices are not values. Prices are what someone is asking for the piece, not necessarily with any knowledge or study. The selling price for the item, or what a willing buyer will pay, is the value. Compare selling prices for similar sold items, but be sure that circumstances are comparable. You will not be able to get the same price for an item at a garage sale as you might online in a world marketplace. Time is important, too. If you need to liquidate for immediate cash, the value will not be the same as it would if you can wait a year for an auction house to sell the item.
Ask a furniture appraiser. If you are not comfortable with your own evaluation, you have done the preliminary work to discuss the Art Deco furniture with an appraiser. Choose an experienced, credentialed appraiser who has completed classes in appraisal techniques. Find an appraiser in your area through the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) or the Appraisers Association of America (AAA). Employ an appraiser for a consultation at an hourly rate to find out the value of Art Deco furniture.
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