Copies of 18th Century French Regency Furniture
Like other furniture made in accordance with conventions, French furniture is also very easy to be transformed. Let us assume that we have a French provincial style commode. If we want to transform it into a Parisian style, we only need to replace the cork lining of the drawer with old oak or walnut. Then, we slowly gold-plated copper fittings, provided that they were simply cast and gold-plated with varnish. Finally, if the marble tabletop is of medium quality and poor color, we can replace it with the top Spanish marble. Then, the furniture of the "Regency Period" was formed.
Only a small number of experienced antique dealers can identify reworked or decorated parts. Furniture is unlikely to undergo such a transformation, and it is more likely that the name of the famous craftsman will be engraved on the furniture to facilitate sales.
Now let us return to the previous example of the commode. As one of the most common furniture, because of its large size and squat, it is difficult to sell. In order to attract buyers more easily, merchants usually add the signature of the craftsman to it.
The authenticity of the craftsman’s signature is actually easy to identify because, as we have seen, real is real. In other words, from the time when the piece was made, the signature of the craftsman must be necessary for some high-end furniture Before or after the monogram JME (Jurande Menuisiers Ebénistes). Although many counterfeiters have outstanding skills, they lack culture knowledge. Therefore, if the signature appears without the JME logo, we should be able to judge whether this piece of furniture is either post-imitation or made by some second- and third-class craftsmen.
The ability to identify the original and duplicate furniture pieces is an important indicator to distinguish the capabilities of a merchant. For example, when he is faced with such a very important signature of a craftsman, he needs to know whether the craftsman usually puts a signature on his work. Then he will carefully analyse the finishes on the wood and accessory brackets.
As far as seats are concerned, few people will double check whether they have been modified. For example, someone would use a rare 19th-century replica to enhance the surface treatment by chemical means to transform it into the original seat of the 18th century. At the same time, I need to point out that the most frequent ones are the one appear on French provincial style furniture.
Many French provincial style fauteuils, bergeres and sofas are made of beechwood or walnut, but some carvings may be added later to enhance the decorative effect, and the overall height of the furniture is adjusted to conform to the Paris style. . However, if the carving is completed within a few hundred years, it will appear like irregular pits caused by wood worms. Many counterfeiters will slowly cut the surface of the furniture to be counterfeited with a knife, which will give people the illusion of wear that seems to have formed over time. These fake tunnels are often plugged with stucco, and the color of the stucco matches the color of the wood. To distinguish this kind of trick requires very keen observation.
However, it is also very important that the seats that have been remodeled in the later period should not be confused with those originals that have had original gilt gold but have faded. On the surface of the original, we can also see similar traces of worms. However, this is not due to any decoration, but because the worm has affected the gilt, or more precisely, the worm has corroded the layer of gypsum under the gilt, infiltrated the wood and plaster, and reached a more easily penetrated place. After removing the gold plating, the carving seems to be eaten up in some places, just like the seats decorated in the later period.
The difference between the "peeled" chair and the later decorated chair is the traces of gold or plaster left in, which we can observe with a magnifying glass. If skinning is done so well that no such marks can appear, the final decision must be made by an antique dealer or expert who can identify the treatment of the artwork from the style and vitality of the carving.
Finally, everyone should note that furniture in the style of the Regency period has been widely copied from 1840 to the beginning of the 20th century. Many skilled counterfeiters will also transform works imitated by some famous artisans in the 19th century to make them look more like original works. As far as seats are concerned, the number of replicated seats is small, and the vast majority of replicated seats are gold-plated, not those modified from natural wood. However, it should be pointed out that in the 19th century, the amount of reproduction of furniture during the Regency period was still significantly less than that of furniture during the period of Louis XIV and Louis XV.