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Pieces of furniture made by the Ladies’ Guild are in very high demand and that translates into cost. They are extremely fragile now and many are in very poor and degraded condition. However, for keen collectors - particularly in England - they do have special appeal.
The market for other 19th Century pieces has been strong for years. Most of these pieces are unmarked and many are quite crudely made and are easily overlooked – you need to learn how to spot them. Visit specialist auctions or dealers, see and handle pieces as much as possible. Ask dealers questions, such as the piece’s history, how it has been stored, or whether it has been repaired. Glued repairs yellow and dry out and are no substitute for quality construction. Storage in a damp loft or basement will keep wood hydrated, but once it is exposed to dry central heating, it can warp and crack.
The value for 20th century pieces is also beginning to creep up, especially in the United States, where the retro look is making an impact on the market. Look for well-made pieces with makers’ marks that are of their time, cast metal furnishings from the 1920s, Bakelite from the 1930s and 1940s and colourful plastic furnishings from the 1950s.
Do not necessarily stick to one period - eclectic mixes of furniture can be interesting and give you a greater chance of appealing to a variety of collectors if you decide to sell.