Reclaiming Forgotten Treasures For Fun and Profit

label from a trashed treasure stamped on the bottom of the seat of a stool
Forgotten treasure abound in our consumer based culture. Do you know what forgotten treasures are? Have you ever watched the PBS show, ‘Antiques Roadshow’? If you have, you will know that the difference between a forgotten treasure, and what is not, can be a very fine line.

Here are some questions to ask and actions to take to determine what you have, a forgotten treasure, a collectible, an antique or just a piece of furniture.

• The first thing to do is to observe what kind of condition the item is in. Is it vintage (perfect) or is it in a degree of less than perfect. That will determine what its intrinsic value is. If something is vintage, it is best to keep it as is, not do anything to it other than gently clean it, keep it or try to sell it.

If a piece is obviously damaged, then one wants to find out if it is an antique or a collectible. That involves research either online, in books or in-person. An antique is something over 75 years old. A collectible is less than that but at least 50 years old.

There was an old Queen Anne dresser on ‘Antiques Roadshow’ once that seemed to need a repainting. So the owner repainted it. But because it was an antique several hundred years old, its value was diminished significantly by the facelift. So one must be diligent in the research stage.

• The second thing to do is to look for any identifying markings. The stamp under the seat portion in the featured image of our stool reveals its origin. This piece of furniture was made by the Burke Division of the Brunswick Corporation.

In looking for the piece online, I was not able to find a picture of it. But I was able to find a set of chairs that had the same ultra-modern leg style. That was at least a clue that the stool was made by a known company.

forgotten treasures or collectible
Burke Swivel Tulip Arm Chair © listing
forgotten treasures before
Forgotten treasures can have second chances. Photo credit: Phil Jacobs
forgotten treasures renewed
The stool reincarnated and looking great. Photo credit: Phil Jacobs

I also found the above chairs on a facebook page, Retro Luxe Home that specializes in retro furniture. This manufacturer’s work clearly had some collectible value.

But in the case of the stool in this story, the damaged condition of the seat part made it far from vintage. That was the sign that it could be given a new life and reincarnated. I chose not to restore it as another artisan, Shaun Guinan of Reworks Vintage, Pittsfield, MA had done with his table and chairs. I chose to reincarnate it with my own decorative flair, instead. Here is the stool, before and after.

I want to thank my dear friend, Michelle for lending me this stool to demonstrate one of Alison*s Heirloom Projects.

So don’t forget. The next time you come across forgotten treasures, don’t pass them by. They may be old friends that just need some TLC and a new life. If you are not sure how to do it, you can refer to, ‘The 5-Step Decorative Painting Process’ on YouTube.

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