Taking a Closer Look at Antique Picture Frames

Antique picture frames (which are frames that are 100 years old or more) have their own unique appeal. These give one a sense of history. In turn, this sense of history, this “return to the good old days” lends its one-of-a-kind style and character to any room. In fact, they can be considered a masterpiece in themselves.

The elaborate woodwork tells of artisans of old who painstakingly and expertly carved them, with the craftsmanship handed over from the previous generations. The wood is precious, because it has proven itself by standing the test of time. In addition, the finishing may also add to the beauty and value of the frame. Most vintage picture frames are hand finished and even gilded with gold or silver leaf. Thus, antique picture frames can fetch high prices, especially if the frames are well preserved and in good condition.

These gorgeous vintage picture frames can serve to enhance the look and increase the value of an artwork or autograph. The frame can also be used to hold mirrors. You can also add convex glass to the frame to complete the old world look and feel of a portrait.

When Buying Antique Picture Frames

Antique picture frames can fetch a considerable price, because of its rarity and inherent value. As such, if you plan on buying an antique picture frame, you should carefully scrutinize the item (as well as its seller) to ensure that you are buying ‘the real deal’ and not a forgery. Here are some things to look at:

  • Seller’s reputation. It is best to buy only from trusted and reputable antique stores.
  • Age of the frame. Check the wood and the hardware for indications of natural aging, such as signs of wear and warping. The wood at the back of the frame should have uneven staining and dark coloring, because the passage of time will case oxidation.
  • Labels. Look at the back of the frame for the craftsman’s mark. The label will usually also have the date when the frame was created The label can be a piece of paper or engraved metal that is attached onto the back of the frame. These can also be stenciled or stamped directly onto the frame’s back. Note though, that not all frames have labels.
  • Weight. Because of the quality of wood, genuine antique frames will be heavy. In contrast, reproductions may be made with polyresin, which is lighter than wood.

If antique picture frames are way out of your budget, you can also consider getting quality replica frames, such as the ones offered by The Victorian Frame Company.

Identifying the Different Styles of Antique Picture Frames

Aside from the indicators listed above, you can also try to decipher whether a frame is an original or a replica simply by looking at its style. You see, paintings will reflect the popular painting style, and in turn, the frames were designed to complement and match that particular painting style.

Here are some styles that are popular with antique picture frames:

Baroque style. This style started at around the beginning of the 17th century. Baroque frames, like other baroque works of art, are more elaborate, grand and dramatic. This includes carved medallions, shells, leaves and flowers. These are usually placed in the corners of the frame.

Rococo style. The rococo style is more fanciful and is characterized by the use of swirling designs, such as scrolling raffle leaves, sprigs of flowers, fluted shells and corner cartouches.

Victorian style. Victorian frames were produced roughly at the same time as the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and this has heavily influenced the production of these frames. Instead of handcrafted work, most of the Victorian-style frames are usually made with pre-finished and pre-cut parts. These parts are made of resins, water, calcium carbonate, gesso and linseed oil, which is then pressed into molds that bear elaborate moldings.

Renaissance cassetta. This is characterized by a boxlike look, with geometric patterns or flowers and leaves. These designs may be carved, etched through a layer of paint or gilded with gold.

Neoclassical style. This is marked by simpler designs, such as molded squares, rounded profiles, straight lines or simple beading. 

9th Mar 2016 Eric Morgan

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