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How do I Choose the Best French Antique Tables?

Robert Ferguson
Robert Ferguson

Several factors to consider when selecting French antique tables for the home or office include style, condition, and price. The style of the tables should complement the theme and décor of the room. If the pieces will be actively used on a regular basis, their condition is more important than if they are to be used for decorative purposes only. Price also plays a role in choosing antique tables and should be considered in regard to age, condition, availability, and resale value.

The style of French antique tables generally depends on the time period in which they were crafted. Design characteristics reflect what was popular at the time and range from the decorative and ornate, to the elegant and sleek, to the simple and cozy. One of the oldest design periods for antique French furniture is French Gothic while Art Deco is one of the newest.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Earlier French design styles include Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo. From the late 18th century past the turn of the 20th century, popular styles include Classical Revival, Modern — encompassing Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and Rustic. When choosing antique tables, it is important to ensure the style of the table fits with the decorative style of the room. While an antique French Country trestle farm table is simple in design and complements most rooms' décor, an ornate table inlaid with mother-of-pearl from the Art Deco period may not.

When purchasing French antique tables, condition of the pieces is an important factor to consider. Tables in poorer condition can often be purchased at a lower price. Keep in mind, however, that significant damage or any alterations in the table's original state, even to make needed repairs, may adversely affect the value and resale price.

Prices and purchasing opportunities for antique tables vary depending on several factors. A table designed by a well-known artisan such as Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann may garner a higher price than a piece by an unknown artisan. At scheduled auctions, both online and in-house, French antique tables may be acquired at a reasonable price if there are few bidders. Privately held antique sales may yield an opportunity for greater price negotiation.

French antique tables are available through private estate sales, upscale auctions, online antiques sites, and retailers specializing in the sale of antique furniture. Before purchasing, have the pieces assessed by a reputable and certified antiques dealer. It is common practice for original pieces to be replicated, and replicas should be designated as such at the time of purchase. If there is any doubt, a qualified antiques dealer has the tools and experience to determine authenticity.

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