How to Tell a Real Chesterfield Sofa

Written by merle huerta
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How to Tell a Real Chesterfield Sofa
Chesterfield sofas, which are individually handcrafted, have a distinctive look. (interior with leather pillow image by araraadt from

Chesterfield sofas, characterised by tufted leather, scrolled arms and brass-covered nails, have been a symbol of fine craftsmanship and durability since the late 1700s. While many manufactured knock-offs are sold through furniture dealers, authentic Chesterfield sofas, in addition to being handcrafted, have certain notable features.

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  1. 1

    Sit on the sofa. Chesterfield Sofas, a U.K. online resource, specifies that authentic Chesterfields use layered panels of high-quality padding wrapped in horsehair. Horsehair, a padding introduced by German furniture makers and used in upholstery for centuries, is utilised in the high-quality furniture manufacturing. Sofa cushions are fashioned with high-quality foam core and again wrapped in horsehair.

  2. 2

    Feel the leather. Authentic Chesterfield sofas are made with full hides of aniline leather, not split hides or artificial substitutes. According to the Irving Tanner Leather Glossary, aniline leather is immersed in a dye bath. The final result is a leather, coloured all the way through that maintains natural flaws and markings. Because only the best-quality hides can be dyed using this method, it's a good indicator of Chesterfield authenticity.

  3. 3

    Look at the sofa's wooden feet. Authentic Chesterfield sofas typically have bun-shaped feet made from hardwood mahogany. Frames, though difficult to inspect, are also hand-constructed from dried hardwoods such as beech and birch.

  4. 4

    Study the sofa's detail. Authentic Chesterfield sofas have wide, scrolled arms and rolled backs. Leather folds, terminating in tufted wells, are finished with leather-clad buttoning. Brass tacks, polished or covered with brass buttons, are details that originate from the sofa's early history.

  5. 5

    Locate the Chesterfield label sewn underneath the sofa. Though Chesterfield sofas don't originate from one manufacturer, authentic Chesterfield manufacturers include a serial number. The serial number, along with a certificate of warranty or handbook of title, entitles the owner to a 10-year warranty on any issues with a faulty frame. Additionally, many Chesterfield dealers will extend a two-year full warranty covering issues that arise with normal "wear and tear."

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