A Lively Surface | Antique & Art Exchange

A Lively Surface

From the moment I first started collecting I wanted to know how to tell if something was old or not. Most dealers are in no rush to help create competitors, so their answers tended to be vague at best. I can’t recall who gifted me this insight, but the idea that an old and wonderful object posses a “lively surface” has been more than a little helpful in my time as a collector. Time works it’s magic on most things, subtly altering color and surface. While a recently made piece of wooden furniture might have a couple of variations in color, a 200 year old piece will have hundreds of subtle variations. While a new piece of porcelain will have little sign of age and use, an old piece will show variation of color and patterns of wear. The signs of age are subtle and require training eyes to spot. The good news is that these trade indicators are fairly unmistakable, and while attempts to imitate by the forgers can be competent, its an invariable fact that the regularity of these marks with expose the fake. Authentic wear will be predictable but also random. While an old painting will have the gentle and subtle craquelure created by time, a fake painting will have either no cracking or cracking so uniform it defies belief. A piece of furniture made by hand will show the richness of subtle variations in color and the irregularity that vanished once pieces where made by machines. Time and the quality of an object made by hand will create a “lively surface” that simply cannot be well or cheaply imitated.

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