How to Identify an Antique Dresser by Its Signature

Early wood furniture crafters, much like other artisans, frequently left their signature, also known as a maker’s mark, on completed furniture pieces. These signatures help buyers and buyers identify and authenticate the piece of furniture. The signature on your antique dresser, along with other clues, can potentially help you learn more about its own history and craftsmanship.

Search Your Dresser

Analyze your antique door to look for a mark, stamp or signature. Typically, early craftsmen put a mark on the bottom, the back or inside a drawer. The location and style of the mark can fluctuate depending on whether the antique furniture piece has been created and built by an independent craftsman or someone who worked for a furniture business. You might be searching for a handmade material signature, a carved or engraved mark or even a custom manufacturing stamp.

Gather Documentation

Thorough detective work regarding the mark, signature or stamp on your dresser will call for a physical examination of the mark along with research and maybe the opinion of an appraiser or antique trader. Collect information regarding the signature that would be helpful to a specialist. Take clear photographs of your dresser as well as the signature — electronic if possible. Start looking for a date if you think the piece might have been crafted, and make notes about the mark, especially if it’s not apparent or completely null. As an example, can it be stamped in ink, a paper label, a metallic plate or a carving?

Consult Ethical Resources

Consult sites such as Antique Marks or even Kovels to look for the maker identified on any marks or signatures you found on your antique dresser. Books such as “A Dictionary of Marks: Metalwork, Furniture, Ceramics: The Investigation Handbook for Antique Collectors” by Margaret Macdonald-Taylor can help you learn more about the signature in your piece. Websites such as Collector’s Weekly and Your Antique Furniture Guide also offer helpful periodic updates.

Consider a specialist

Find an appraiser if you wish to have your dresser officially appraised within an antique. The appraiser can examine the signature and provide you a written present value to the dresser, which can be great for insurance purposes. If you choose to consult an appraiser, then you can usually find a specialist by calling or visiting nearby antique stores for referrals. The appraiser will examine the dresser and its own signature; notice its construction, layout, design, material and patina; see if any components have been replaced or solved because manufacture; and provide an estimate as to its age.

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