The word "armoire" dates to the 16th century. Many early two-door wardrobe cabinets were made popular by the 17th century, and antique examples have been passed down for generations. Armoires continue to be collectible today, though the market is flooded with many reproductions. Finding a value on your antique armoire may take some sleuthing to determine when it was made, but it is achievable with a little effort.
Measure your armoire and write down the measurements. Note any key features of the styling that may help you identify the piece. Look for any manufacturer's markings on the back or near the base. If your armoire also contains drawers, remove them and look on the bottom of the drawers for tags or markings. If you know the type of wood used, this may be helpful. The woodworking in the seaming of doors or drawers (styling) may also prove noteworthy.
Visit the local library, unless you have a manufacturer's marking, then proceed to the Internet on Step 3. Prepare to sleuth through books that can help you find the style, maker, age or value of your piece. Books to review include antique and collectible price guides, books on antique furniture, auction value guides and illustrated furniture history guides. You may also find antique furniture restoration books containing armoires under the woodworking section.
Access the Internet. With a manufacturer, style name or markings, your search will be easier and yield results to determine what your antique armoire is worth. Otherwise you will have to search on the Web (using a browser such as Google), searching for keywords such as "antique armoires" or "vintage armoire." If the results get overwhelming, try switching to an image-result-only search. Check eBay's antique furniture listings for clues.
Get online help. Take good digital photographs of your armoire. Search for antique furniture restoration companies or dealers who collect or sell armoires. A quick conversation or email to dealers to ask them if they would look at your photos and advise on style or maker of your armoire may prove to be helpful in obtaining additional information, values or clues.
Consult the local phone directory. When all else fails, you may have to call in help. Employ the aid of antiques experts or appraisers to obtain a professional paid evaluation. You may also wish to locate restoration experts who specialize in antique furniture in your area.
- Measuring tape
- Access to library
- Access to Internet
- Digital camera
- Phone book
When searching the Internet, familiarize yourself with reproductions, as your armoire may very well be a reproduction of an earlier style.