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Chinese Antiques: New or Old? Check the Doors Too Print E-mail

John Rogers: Hi, my name is John and welcome again to our series of videos on antique Chinese furniture on how to differentiate between old and new. These two pieces have essentially the same appearance in terms of their finish. They have the same looking hardware. So how do you tell which is old and which is new? Let's take a look at the door because doors can be a very important clue as to being able to differentiate new from old. If you look at this door, it is made of very heavy, solid wood, all one piece and the other door very similar to it. If you look on the inside, you see very, very little wear where the doors would normally have scratched or scuffed the interior surface. Look at this door by contrast. This door has what you would call picture frame molding. You see the molding out here and this panel right in here, very much just as though you were building a mirror or even a window. This construction, by the way, is very utilitarian because it prevents warpage and allows for expansion and contraction. And there is very little warpage found in good antique Chinese furniture. Notice also the construction. You can see here that there is this joint here and see also this joint here which is duplicated on the bottom. And that is very typical of old Chinese furniture. Also on the inside you see lots of color variations down on the bottom. And you do see evidence of wear where the doors have been swung in and swung out. What these two pieces have in common is replaced hardware. So the hardware is sometimes but rarely a good differentiator. The construction of the doors however, can tell you a lot -- a solid piece of wood, no wear - window pane construction and beautifully mortised and tendoned together. Thanks so much, take care.