antique Chesterfield sofa worth it?
My husband and I are contemplating spending more than we would spend on a new sofa to get a very old Chesterfield. We saw it in the beautiful showroom of a highly respected interior designer, and the story is that it probably dates to the 1880s, was purchased by the designer in Paris, and is upholstered with horsehair. It's @77" wide, @16" high (seat) with an arm height all the way around of about 30".
The leather is not torn anywhere, but it is discolored in many areas; the cushioning of the bench, while still springy, is compressed; it has "stretch marks" between the buttons apparently from being sat on for decades; and there are large patches where the surface is crackling and flaking (just the thinnest outer skin), particularly the top of the back of the sofa. Other parts of the sofa are in very good condition, and the leather is the thickest stuff I have encountered. It also weighs a ton, and is a little creaky.
It is a wreck, but frankly this is a big part of its appeal, along with being extremely comfortable for both of us. It is a case of one man's trash being another man's treasure. I can live with that; my husband is in love with it.
But there are two things that made me go "Hmmm...": in an area where the leather had been originally tightly gathered around a button-tuft, but now is looser, I noticed that the leather on the inside (which would have been out of sight originally) is a different, much lighter color. Is it possible that the leather was treated with a dye after it was covered, perhaps at some point long after it was first made, to cover stains etc., or is there some other explanation? Also, I was inspecting the feet and realized that they seem to be screwed on. Also a late addition, or a sign of more recent manufacture, or ... ??? These things made me wonder if perhaps it is not antique at all, but a more recent piece that has simply been heavily abused, perhaps even left outside for a time in the rain & sun, before being "rescued." I don't know if this would actually make a difference to my husband, but the showroom sales rep was making a big deal about this being a one-of-a-kind piece, a museum piece, etc., and I feel they are using this to justify the high price. They have already offered to come down 20% on the price but I think it's still too high. I would love to hear what this forum has to say about the piece. The sales rep said they would be happy to work with us to get a new piece of furniture that would be similar and less expensive, but added that of course it will not have this kind of character.