Does caning on furniture necessarily mean it's antique?

debodunJune 23, 2013

I have a 4-leg, caned seat stool I've been trying to sell for 2 years for $25. I assumed it was an antique because of the caning. A man that stopped at my estate sale said it wasn't an antique because the seat was in too good condition and offered me $2 which I refused. Now I'm wondering if it is an antique.

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No, caning on furniture has nothing to do with whether that item is an antique. There are a multitude of new caned stools/chairs available today from an equal multitude of places. Your cute stool may be "vintage" but it could also have just had a hard life and be 20 years old. I think it's worth the $25 you've been asking but then again...worth is whatever a willing buyer and a willing seller agree.

It is common practice to define "antique" as applying to objects at least 100 years old. Personally, I don't like that "definition".

I much prefer using the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that defines antiques as "works of art (except rugs and carpets made after the year 1700), collections in illustration of the progress of the arts, works in bronze, marble, terra cotta, parian (marble), pottery, or porcelain, artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830".

The approximate beginning of mass production in the United States was 1830 and that's the date I use to define "antique".

Cars are an exception for obvious reasons.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Fori is not pleased

And keep in mind that caning does wear out and an antique chair could very well have a new cane job on it!

People here (other than me) might be able to help you get a better idea of the age with pictures of the joints and how it's put together.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 2:41PM
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Cute stool. Hard to date them, because they tended to stay in production for decades. And then they were reproduced when the goose in bonnet era of "country" came in in the 1980s.

Re-caning doesn't affect the value of a piece if it's done in the original style and weight, unless it's something really special like a genuine 1640s chair. Cane was expected to wear out.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 5:07PM
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Could you show us a close-up of where the stretchers join the legs? Are there circular marks around the leg at these points? How much wear is on the top of the stretchers?

The fact that the stool is made from oak suggests that it might be turn-of-the-(20th)century, or up to a few decades later. Most of the later repros were not (although some were).

As fori said, caning doesn't last. In regular use, a chair may need to be recaned within ten years. So new caning is NOT a sign of a new piece. And yours looks like hand-woven caning, which is a good sign. Pressed cane was most commonly used in later pieces; hand caning was too labor-intensive.

And why the heck does spell-check on this site not like the American spelling of labor and color, etc.?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 8:35PM
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That is "hand" caning on the stool , not machine cane . Meaning ,yours is woven strand by strand . It's particularly difficult to do a circle. Note the uneven spacing and odd shape of the "holes" . If done correctly the hols should all somewhat resemble a stop
sign like shape .
Often a "hand caned" piece lends to being an older piece . I don't think $25 is a crazy price to ask .
Hard to tell from the pix, the frame around the cane looks to be Walnut or Mahogany .
Does the cane go through to the underside , and is tied off ? If not then it's referred to as "blind" and would also lead you to believe it's older .

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Could we see the underside of the seat?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 9:50PM
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