An antique hutch makes an elegant, traditional piece of furniture in almost any style of home. These large, versatile home furnishings became popular as early as the 17th century and were used to display the fine china that families had either bought or had passed down to them. In fact, you may have one of these useful cabinets stored away in an attic or storage unit; so take a look at how to identify one of these antique china hutches and what to look for when trying to purchase one for yourself.
Historic Traditions Surrounding the Antique Hutch
Traditionally, a china hutch was used to display one's collection of fine china or other decorative tableware within the hutch's glass display shelves lining the top of the furniture. Not only was this an easy way to display the kitchen finery, but it was also a safety measure meant to protect these valuable items. Additionally, antique china hutches were used to store other domestic and household items like linens, dishes, and so on within the lower set of cabinets. Interestingly, these china hutches weren't only located in the formal dining rooms of historical homes, rather you could find them in hallways, bedrooms, parlors, and kitchens. While there are contemporary manufacturers of china hutches, collecting fine dining wear has gone out of fashion with modern families, and the need to have one of these pieces has significantly diminished.
How to Identify an Antique China Hutch
Considering that these pieces of furniture aren't frequently displayed in modern homes, it can be difficult for amateur collectors to identify one of these in the wild. Thus, you'll want to pay attention to a few characteristics which'll help you better identify one of these antique displays.
Materials Used to Create Antique China Hutches
Generally, antique china hutches are made out of some type of hardwood. Most examples include glass-covered shelves, but some have open shelves. Many also have mirrors embedded along the back walls of the top shelves that help exhibit all sides of the collectibles to the viewer. Similarly, a majority of antique china hutches were crafted with simplicity in mind, but occasionally you will come across examples that have hand carved wood designs. Yet, if you're on the hunt for a genuine antique china hutch to add to your collection, look for one's made out of the following materials:
Varnishes Applied to Antique China Hutches
Due to historic woodworking practices, you may find these antiques to have a dull coloring and potent odor. This can be caused by the aged oil varnishes that were applied to the wood to protect it from damage; however, these varnishes dull and deteriorate over time, meaning if you find your antique hutch is exhibiting any of these signs then you'll want to investigate having it professionally refinished.
Different Antique China Hutch Styles
Vintage china hutches come in a variety of styles, shapes, and sizes. Some are designed to display items on the shelves and others are completely closed behind wooden doors keeping the contents safely hidden inside being equipped with between two, three, and four doors. However, you should determine how much space you have before deciding on the style, as some china hutches are much wider than others. Some of the manufacturers of antique china hutches include Sheraton, Chippendale, and Hepplewhite, and these are some of the styles they produced.
- Queen Anne
Antique China Hutch Values
Ultimately, furniture is an expensive investment, and antique furniture can cost upwards of $10,000 or more. However, these antiques' quality of construction means that they are guaranteed to last longer than any contemporary furniture you might buy or have already bought. So, if you're wanting to invest in one of these antique china hutches, then you should be prepared to spend a large sum upfront. Now, this doesn't mean that you won't be able to find examples for under $5,000, but for many people that is still a sizable amount to drop on one item. For example, a three-drawer antique china hutch is listed for close to $4,000 in one auction, while a Swedish two-drawer secretary hutch is listed for just a little over $3,000 in another auction.
Where to Start Your Search
You can start searching for antique china hutches in classified ads, estate sales, and local antique stores, as well as in online auctions. Don't be afraid to ask the seller a whole host of questions; it's your money, and you want to be sure that you're paying a worthy price for the item. Remember to look for signs that the piece was hand-crafted and bears the appropriate signs of aging. Unfortunately, some sellers do lie about their products, so be on the lookout for reproductions as perfect carvings and embellishments can be signs of machine made furniture.
Bring an Antique China Hutch Into Your Home
One of the most wonderful aspects of living in the modern age is not being beholden to traditional social conventions. So, if you find yourself enamored with these pieces of antique furniture, don't be worried about not having fine china or dinnerware to display in it. It's your home, and you get to decide which of the pieces that you own are the most important to show to your guests. So, pull out your pencils and laptops and start searching.