Dating wardrobe chest
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.
Look carefully at the bottom, sides, and back of the drawer; if the wood shows nicks or cuts, it was probably cut with a plane, a spokeshave, or a drawknife. If the wood shows circular or arc-shaped marks, it was cut by a circular saw, not in use until about 1860.
Exact symmetry is another sign that the piece was machine-made.
A real antique is not perfectly cut; a reproduction with the same components is, because it was cut by machine. Until Victorian times, shellac was the only clear surface finish; lacquer and varnish were not developed until the mid-1800s.
If it has only a few dovetail joints, with pins narrower than the dovetails, then the joint was made by hand.
The basic English and American styles run the gamut from ornate to severely functional, from massive to delicate. Technically, an antique is a piece of furniture with special value because of its age, particularly those pieces embellished with fine artistry.
The age factor is subjective: general antique stores label objects 50 years or older as antiques.
Testing a finish isn't always possible in a dealer's showroom, but if you can manage it, identify the finish before you buy.
Test the piece in an inconspicuous spot with denatured alcohol; if finish dissolves, it's shellac.
There are many different styles of furniture, and each type has distinguishing features.