Why would anyone buy antique furniture reproductions? If the styles and construction of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are so appealing, why not just buy the genuine antique?
After all, what can compare with the wonderful sense of history and romance conjured by a genuine antique? What ardent seventeenth century lovers may have stolen a kiss on that Louis XIV loveseat, what secret missive may have been composed atop that delicate marquetry writing desk? Undoubtedly, antiques have an undeniable cachet.
All of which again begs the question: why not buy the original? Except.
Since the turn of the last century, truly fine antiques have become increasingly difficult to find, and, consequently, increasingly expensive. Antiques having become something of a craze during the 1980s, old barns and attics, once the source of many a delightful find, have long since been mined of their treasures. Oh, of course, antiques were constructed to last, so that is not to say they no longer exist. Only now, that sturdily comforting Country French table, that elegant Louis XV banquette, that incredible Malouine parquetry armoire that you so covet is already living happily ever after in someone else’s home. Or being offered at a price so exorbitant it takes your breath away.
And that, in a nutshell, is the answer to “Why buy reproduction furniture?” But, since genuine antiques will always hold a special place in my heart (in fact, when the opportunity arises, I still collect the occasional piece), I am something of a snob when it comes to reproductions. In fact, in my opinion, as surely as there is such a thing as a “genuine antique,” there is also a “genuine reproduction.” That is, I do not consider a piece of mass-manufactured furniture that is simply made in the style of an antique to qualify as a genuine reproduction, any more than I would consider a paint-by-numbers copy of the Mona Lisa to be a work of art.
And, again in my opinion, both genuine antiques and genuine reproductions are works of art. Both are hand-crafted by skilled artisans using centuries-old techniques and styles as timeless as – well, as the Mona Lisa herself.
On the purely practical side, reproductions are made to last and, because of the quality of design, materials and construction, they will more than likely become the antiques of tomorrow. Also, they allow you to have, in your own home, that very special desk or chair or buffet that you have seen in your mind’s eye (or in your friend’s living room), but that you could not otherwise buy at any price.
And if you find the term “reproduction” as limiting as I do, simply call these fine hand-crafted pieces what they truly are: new antique