You can agree with me that one can easily confuse a wardrobe for an antique armoire. But then, their prices must be breathtaking! What’s their difference anyway? The cost or the design?
An antique armoire is a piece of furniture that was used to store valuables like weapons and clothing. They are expensive due to their uniqueness and rarity. They are unique and classy and can add elegance to your lounge area, study room, and bedroom.
The country of origin inspires their designs and decorations. The most common armoires designs are; French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, German, and Chines armoires.
In this handy guide, we shall explore various ways to identify an original antique armoire, common maintenance practices and the different types of armoires. Keep reading!
What Is the Historical Background of Antique Armoires?
The history of antique armoires dates back to the medieval period. They were used in castles to store weapons and other collectables. Also, the royalty used them to hold their outfits since they were spacious enough. Moreover, they indicated the owner's social status from the kind of ornaments and pieces of wood used. The first pieces were made in France during the 17th Century; thus, the term “armoire” means “cupboard”. Later, they were spotted in various countries like Italy, among others.
Over time, they have evolved, taking different shapes and designs. The adaptations have seen most of them take the form of present-day wardrobes, which are thin and tall. But still, they have managed to maintain their elegance and charm. More enough! Some are customized to the client's liking.
How to Identify an Original Antique Armoires
Antique armoires may cost you an arm and a leg. Unbeknownst to many, several collectors are selling fake products at inflated prices. Here are a few things to look for if you want to check out a high-end antique armoire.
Style and Construction
Based on the design, identifying its origin is simple. For instance, French-inspired antique armoires may have a French ornate, similar to Germanic carvings. Even though the style does not indicate the actual age of an antique, it is easy to identify a duplicate of the original and how old it is.
Antique armoires have been in existence even before the 19th Century. Come to think of it, so many years have passed, and some armoires are discarded yearly, right? Old is always gold; therefore, any antique in the market dating back to that period must be very durable and thus will be highly valued.
The state of an armoire can affect its market value. I mean, it's not easy for one to pay handsomely for a broken item. Therefore, an armoire in good condition shows how durable they are and are highly valued. Be cautious of some design duplications made to look older and more authentic than they actually are.
Valuables are very rare. An item's rarity is one factor used to determine the age, condition and style of an antique armoire. Some rare armoires are those initially owned by celebrities and the royals and are few. Maybe because they are expensive or because some people are holding to them to keep history with them.
The Most Valuable Antique Armoire Designs
Antique armoires come in a variety of designs and styles. However, all these depend on the period they were crafted, the country of origin, and the type of wood used to make them. The most common designs are;
Antique 3 Door French Walnut Armoire Cabinet Bookcase Display Cabinet
This armoire dates back to the 18th Century. It is French-designed and is more of an exposition piece that gives a glamorous look to your living room. It has beautiful decorations that complement the design. The three-glass doors and glass shelves distinguish it from the rest. Consider this if you're looking for a unique and large enough cabinet to occupy that immense space in your home.
Unlike other armoires, which can be used as wardrobes, this French-style antique can be used to showcase collectibles, or rather as a library in the living room or the study room and anything that complements the French style.
The antique 3-door French walnut armoire cabinet is ideal for large living rooms and can cost up to $3650.
Antique Victorian Rococo Revival Rosewood Armoire Delta Meeks Mallard
It costs a whopping $ 4900.
Antique Victorian Rococo is a single-door glazed armoire. It is eye-catching due to its “shouting nature” and is comparably more delicate than the French Walnut armoire. Its exact age is not given, but it can be estimated to date back to the 1850s.
It is a two-in-one wardrobe. One can try on clothes with the help of the mirror fitted on them. The Victorian Rococo has curved lines at the edges and is decorated with gold leaf or ivory carvings on the doors and drawers to give it a great appearance. Furthermore, it is large enough and thus fit for spacious rooms.
It is Ideal for people who prefer bright-looking things. Otherwise, it does not blend well in a dull room.
Chinese Antique Red Lacquered Armoire
The red lacquered armoire is Chinese-inspired and was built in the 19th Century. The armoire is red with an ornate design of golden floral motifs. It is actually large in the interior although it seems small from the outside.
It requires restoration. From its appearance, it has scratches and has faded. Therefore to regain its actual appearance, some refurbishing is needed. It sells for $2900.
Armoire de Mariage Bretone
Each bride desires a unique wedding gift, at least one, if not more. The armoire de mariage breton is one of the most precious gifts a bride received during the 18th Century. The mariage armoire was made in Britani in France. And, as the name indicates, they were meant for brides to store their trousseau like linen and clothing. And, they are costly, being valued at $100 000.
The Armoire de mariage breton is made from oak wood. It has intricate curving symbolizing village life, love, and fidelity. It is hand-painted and has ornate brass on the hardware.
Armoire de Provence
It was crafted in France during the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Armoire de Provence is simple but elegant. They have long ornate hinges and are generally well preserved. It is double-doored with an ample interior. They have minimal carvings with straight lines but are finely furnished on the hardware. And they are crafted from cherry and walnut wood. They can be used for storing household items.
Despite their simplicity, they are valuable and can sell for about $20 000and more. If you want something simple but valuable, this one suits you best.
How to Preserve an Antique Armoire?
Preserving an antique armoire requires a combination of gentle cleaning, proper handling, and appropriate environmental conditions. Here are some steps to help you preserve the beauty and value of your antique armoire:
- Assess the condition: Before doing anything, carefully inspect the armoire to determine its condition. Look for signs of wear, damage, or previous repairs. If you're unsure about the proper care or handling of the piece, consult with a professional conservator or antique furniture specialist.
- Gentle cleaning: Use a soft, lint-free cloth or a soft-bristle brush to gently remove dust and dirt from the armoire. Avoid using abrasive or harsh cleaning materials, as they can damage the wood and finish. For stubborn dirt, you can dampen the cloth with a mild soap solution, but be sure to wring it out thoroughly and avoid getting the wood too wet.
- Wax or polish: To protect the wood and maintain its luster, apply a high-quality wax or polish specifically designed for antique furniture. Follow the product instructions and use a soft, lint-free cloth to apply the wax or polish in a thin, even layer. Buff the surface gently to achieve a smooth, even finish.
- Maintain the hardware: If the armoire has metal hardware, such as handles or hinges, remove them carefully and clean them separately. Use a gentle metal cleaner or polish to remove tarnish or dirt. If the hardware is damaged or heavily corroded, consult with a professional conservator or antique furniture specialist for advice on restoration or replacement.
- Address structural issues: If the armoire has loose joints, broken parts, or other structural issues, consult with a professional conservator or antique furniture specialist for advice on how to properly repair the piece. Avoid using modern adhesives, nails, or screws, as they can damage the wood and decrease the armoire's value.
- Control environmental factors: Proper storage and display conditions are essential for preserving antique furniture. Maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level to prevent wood expansion and contraction, which can lead to warping, cracking, or splitting. Ideally, the temperature should be between 65-75°F (18-24°C) and relative humidity between 40-60%. Keep the armoire away from direct sunlight, which can cause fading or discoloration.
- Protect from pests: Wood-boring insects, such as beetles and termites, can cause significant damage to antique furniture. Regularly inspect the armoire for signs of infestation and take appropriate measures to prevent or treat any pest problems.
- Avoid overloading: Be cautious about the items you store inside the armoire. Overloading the shelves or drawers can put stress on the joints and structure, potentially causing damage over time.
By following these steps, you can help ensure the longevity and value of your antique armoire. Regular maintenance and proper care will allow you to enjoy the piece for years to come.
What are the Common Repair Practices for Antique Armoires?
Just like any other thing, antique armoires must be repaired continuously to retain their condition. But what are the common repairs required?
Repair Broken Drawers
The most common repair on drawers is to replace drawer slides. If one breaks, replace it with a similar one from your local antique store.
Replace Missing Hardware
These include all the parts of an antique, including handles, locks even the hinges. The spares may be locally available or sourced from online stores at an affordable price.
Refurbishing your antique armoire is a great way to maintain its appearance and state. Occasionally, sand down and repaint it. However, always use the proper technique, approach, and materials when restoring it to ensure its initial looks are good.
Antique armoires are costly compared to wardrobes. Acquiring one for your house will serve its purpose perfectly. To avoid frustrations, always conduct market and background research to know the legitimacy and value of what you're buying.
After all, you need something that can add value to your money. With proper maintenance practices, as indicated above, it will stay intact for generations as its ages.