Thanks to the popularity of television shows such as Antiques Roadshow and online auction websites such as eBay, many now have a heightened awareness of the potential value of the furniture in their attic. Furniture made by particular manufacturers may have a higher value simply because of who made it. The first step to finding out if your attic clutter is actually buried treasure is to identify the maker of the furniture.
Look over your furniture in areas such as the backside or underside. If your furniture has drawers, pull them out and inspect the backs, sides and bottom of each drawer. An identification stamp, called a maker’s mark, is often placed in one of these hard-to-see areas.
Look in the recesses of drawers or the springs of furniture for identification papers. These papers often give the date of manufacture, location of the factory in which the piece was manufactured, and the name of the maker.
Photograph the unique characteristics of the furniture, such as drawer pulls or scroll work. Some of these decorative features are specific to certain makers.
Compare your photograph against images in collector's handbooks for an indication of who the manufacturer may be. Collector’s handbooks that are published for specific types of furniture, such as The Bulfinch Anatomy of Antique Furniture or the Field Guide to Antique Furniture, contain photographs of antique furniture details along with lists of maker’s marks.
Contact an expert in the field of furniture, such as a furniture dealer, antiques appraiser or collector. Furniture dealers, for instance, will be familiar with particular lines of furniture and may have visited the manufacturer’s factory. Antiques appraisers and collectors have studied furniture extensively and will be able to spot details that are characteristic of particular manufacturers. These specialists may charge a fee for their services.
Review antiques websites that specialize in vintage or antique furniture. You may be able to post your photographs to discussion lists, and enthusiasts in the field may be able to identify them.