If a Federal piece sports an American eagle inlay, make sure it is original, because many of these price-spiking elements have been added in recent years. "When one dealer’s shop was cleared out after his death, there was a whole stack of eagle inlays hidden in the back," Leslie Keno remembers. While the replacement of bits of veneer or small carved elements won’t compromise a piece, nor, as Elizabeth Feld points out, does "the crack that most New York card tables have across their tops affect their value," other condition problems are deal-breakers: "Cut-down legs or feet should be avoided at all costs," New York dealer Berlin warns. "A serious replacement like a top is the kiss of death, as is a ‘marriage.’" (A marriage consists of period elements put together to form a new entity). "Original" surface condition is less of an issue: Cleaning a piece of 18th-century American furniture may slash its value, but Federal furniture is a different animal: "These pieces were intended by their makers to shine and show off their contrasting woods," says Priddy. "The grime can be removed without damaging the original finish." However, "Don’t do anything yourself," Priddy cautions. "Ask your local museum to recommend an experienced conservator."
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Eagles And Urns
Furniture with a Federal touch used to be very popular and now it’s collectible.
From the Editors of Traditional Home