Chicago Antiques Guide

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Elegant Antique Sofa

Posted Saturday, December 31 by Brian

I recently was given an antique sofa, and I'm trying to find out more about it. I'm interested in how old it is, as well as how much it is worth. In case I decide to sell it I would also like to know how I would go about doing that. Attached are a few pictures of the sofa.

Thank you, Rachel
Sofa-400.jpg
It is impossible to date it with absolute certainty from photos, even though the detailed photos (not shown) were helpful. I would say that it was probably made in the last quarter of the 19th century. The good news is that the age is not the most important factor in pricing your sofa. The fact that it is very elegantly styled, and was apparently completely restored in the not too distant past, will be more significant than the age alone. The neutral upholstery is a plus, but the fact that it is very light may deter some people. I am assuming that there are no significant stains on the upholstery, the frame and springs are sound, and the finish generally good.

Assuming that it is in excellent condition as it appears in the photos, I would probably price this in the $1,200 range in the shop. But I would expect that it would actually sell between $900 and $1,000. On Ebay, there were when I looked, about 200 antique sofas that had been listed over the last 2 week period. Two of them sold in the $1,500 range. One was much more elaborate with complete button tufted upholstery, which is very expensive to do. The closest sofa to yours in terms of style, age and condition, sold for $856. A number of very nice sofas sold in the $600 range. The vast majority didn't sell at all. Upholstered furniture is more difficult to sell than furniture that is entirely wood. It not only has to be the right size and shape, but the color, pattern and condition of the upholstery must appeal to the buyer. If they don't like it, it will cost about a $1,000 to re-upholster.

It is very difficult for a private party to get antique shop prices when they sell an item. You could put ads in the paper, list it on Craig's List online, consign it to a local auction house (see our Resources page) or try to sell it on Ebay. An antique dealer would probably pay a wholesale price in the $400 range.

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