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The condition and quality of materials are used to gauge the age of a piece.

The wear and tear of a piece of furniture also helps to tell its age.

This is one of the easiest ways to provide a fairly accurate date stamp to any antique.

Tool marks and obvious signs of rough cuts are fairly typical with pieces more than 150 years old.

You may also discover a real antique or two -- pieces handed down through the family for generations.

Other good sources are secondhand stores, household auctions, and garage sales.

With furniture, as with anything else, one person's junk is another another's treasure.

Antique stores are a good place to find furniture to refinish, but expect to pay for these pieces.

It should have a bit of scarring to show for its time. Round tabletops should be out of round, meaning they should be slightly oval.

Determining the age of antique furniture is the first step in establishing a proper valuation, as well as verifying that the piece is indeed an authentic furnishing from the era in question.

There is some detective work to be done if you want to really ensure that the antique is real, and a qualified inspector should be hired if you're spending any appreciable sum of money.

This puts your piece into the Victorian era at the earliest.

A single piece of antique furniture is more than a collection of nails, boards, and wood stain.

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