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Something Old, Something New How to Consign Your Antique Furniture


Perhaps you’ve inherited a Chippendale escritoire from a distant relative but can’t find a place for it among all your cherished art deco pieces. Or maybe you’ve collected Tiffany lamps in the past, but recently your tastes have shifted to Majolica pottery. If either one of these scenarios describes you, then you should consider consigning your antique furnishings. Consigning antique furnishings is a fun and rewarding way to indulge an interest in antiques. And you may just realize a tidy profit in the bargain.

Before you decide which pieces of antique furniture to consign, visit a few consignment shops to determine what kind of furniture they are interested in. Does the shop specialize in twentieth-century American vintage furnishings? Or does it feature only Victorian or Shaker household goods? Does the consignment shop carry large pieces, such as cabinets and tables, or only small goods like appliances and lamps? It is important that you do the necessary reconnaissance of visiting a shop before bringing in photographs of the furniture you want to consign, because you’ll save yourself a lot time if you know the particular preferences of the consignment shops you plan on approaching.

Tips for Restoring Antique Furniture for Consignment

Once you’ve found a consignment shop that you think is likely to take your antique furniture, go home and examine your furniture for any flaws. The following imperfections are the most common sort:

  • Mildew on wooden furniture. Clean any mildew off with one cup water mixed with one tablespoon bleach and one tablespoon dish washing detergent.
  • Tarnished brass handles on trunks and dressers. Remove tarnish with a paste composed of equal parts salt, flour and vinegar. Rub on brass with a soft cloth, and then rinse completely. Shine with a soft cloth.
  • Unpleasant odors from chest of drawers or armoirs. Remove odors with cat litter or baking soda.
  • Discoloration of ceramics. Remove discoloration with soap and water only. But be careful: wipe gently with a soft cloth if the pieces are damaged.
  • Odd bits of adhesive or tape. Remove adhesive or tape with lemon juice.
  • Discoloration of ivory. Buff discolored antique ivory with a woolen cloth.
  • Stuck or frozen clock parts. Lubricate and clean antique clocks every five years.
  • Dirty glass surfaces. Clean glass surfaces to an irradescent finish with cool water and a bit of mild soap.
  • Dull furniture finish. Polish carved furniture with paste wax applied to a stenciling brush and buff using a show brush. You will be able to reach nooks and crannies with this method.


Once the consignment shop decides on the furnishings of yours they want for their inventory, they will either give you the money for your antique items upfront, or offer to take them on consignment, in which you agree to a percentage (usually 30 to 50 percent) of the sale. Style, condition, and original sale price all factor in the determination of the consignment sale price. If, however, your antique item fails to sell within a set period of time (typically 90 days), the consignment shop will offer to donate it to a local charity, in which case they will provide you with a receipt for tax purposes. You can, of course, simply elect to take your antique item home to sell on consignment again in the future.

Selling Antique Furniture Online: Five Rules for Effective Photographs

You can also sell your antique furniture online. Should you decided to consign your antique furniture online, make sure to post high-quality photographs to best represent your furniture. Follow these five rules to ensure you produce effective photographs for selling your antique furniture:

  1. Take memorable, eye-catching photographs. That is, take pictures of only one antique piece at a time, and make sure the piece takes up the majority of the photograph, cropping out any excess space in the frame.
  2. Lower yourself to the level of your furniture for best effect, squatting or kneeling if necessary. Make sure the furniture has been thoroughly polished and cleaned, and remove any items that may be resting on the top of dressers, tables and so on.
  3. Avoid using an indoor flash on furniture with flat surfaces, like tables and chests of drawers, as the flash produces distracting reflections.
  4. Zoom in on details, especially if the antique item in question is ornate. Take pictures of inlaid handles, carved feet, and jeweled detailing.
  5. Take multiple pictures of any one piece in order to ensure that you have at least a couple high-quality pictures with which to work.


When writing descriptions of your antique furnishings for an online consignment shop, include as many details as possible. If a table or dresser has “style,” explain exactly what type of style it has. Does it possess unique qualities, such as guilded or brass detailing? Is the piece of furniture in question fashioned from a rare or expensive type of wood like black walnut or mahogany? Make sure to offer as many details of your antique item’s splendors as you think necessary to cinch the deal. Also, list any flaws the antique piece might have, such as loose joints, nicks or scratches. Being as exhaustive as possible in online descriptions will help ensure that your consignment item will attract the greatest number of potential buyers.

Selling your antique furniture on consignment can be a fun and rewarding hobby, especially if you take care to educate yourself about antique furnishings. Your local library, with its numerous books on antiques, is a fantastic resource in this regard; and your local bookshop has many print sources on antiques as well. Familiarity with the finer points of identifying and selling antique furnishings will help you to market successfully your antiques to consignment shops, whether they be brick-and-mortar or online. Consigning antique furniture is such a fascinating and profitable hobby that you may just find yourself hunting for colonial cabinets or Edwardian chiffoniers to consign.