Look for a blackened area of wood around corroded iron nails.
The Cabinet Makers tools always leave clear clues as to the period when the furniture was made.
I also didnt want this guide to feel like I am interested in you only buying from one period/style of furniture. " Types of questions I would bounce off the seller - If there is any hesitation when the seller answers, I would doubt them a little. After a while you will become more familiar with furniture periods and styles. Just because the legs are bent cabriole It doesnt mean its genuine Queen Anne !
The wear and tear of a piece of furniture also helps to tell its age.
A legitimate antique is one hundred years old or older.
Finding such pieces and being able to afford them is another subject all together. I just do alot of homework before I went into purchasing furniture. Will the piece need restoring/fixing/altering - Bringing this up will affect the asking price. Repeat business with a seller/dealer will always put you in favour with them.
With the second hand market being flooded by reproductions at a fraction of the price their is always the temptation for sellers to pass items off as the original item. I am mindful of what I am buying and I am cautious of the pitfalls. Establish the physical attributes - wood/grain/assembly/Joins/hardware - Knowing all this gives the full picture and may predict the period of the piece. Bundle items - bulk buy always works out better for buyers/sellers ! Look for and point out damage - Now you can re-negotiate a better price. Look for pieces replaced Is the furniture married up with other pieces - This will affect the asking price.