*Here are some key points in determining old reed/wicker from new. I also included a few photos comparing old and new reed/wicker pieces.
1.) Design: Getting familiar with the traditional designs used during the late 1800's and early 1900's.
2.) Hardwood Frames were used in old wicker. Check the construction.
3.) Old wicker is heavy and substantial.
4.) The reed used in old wicker furniture is of superior quality. The reed should always be smooth in old wicker. Frayed or rough reed is a red flag. The materials and construction usually give away a new piece of wicker. The reeds and curlicues used in the construction of new wicker are not always proportionate to the design and sometimes kink out of shape. This is a result of inferior material and craftsmanship. One of the photos I included is a close-up of old curlicues.
5.) Quality Craftsmanship is evident throughout the piece.
6.) Finding a label underneath the seat or on the back of the seat or under the tabletop, etc. is a good way to authentic a piece of wicker. Even when a label is painted over we can usually identify the maker.
There are lots of ways to get fooled.
Wicker was imported from China and the Philippines from the 1950's on and you can imagine these pieces look old. They are not comparable to old American reed/wicker, circa 1880's - 1920's.
There is also plenty of newer reproduction wicker out there.
Several companies make and sell reproduction Victorian wicker furniture. I haven't examined them in person, but I can see from their catalogs, that they offer wicker that is slightly out of proportion, enhanced sometimes with awkward designs.
Examining and handling old reed/wicker is the best way to learn. Studying the pieces on our website will help you to recognize the traditional styles. When you see something that is a little different...be suspicious.
I hope these guidelines and photos help you to determine old from new reed/wicker.
Above: This is an old Victorian reed/wicker chair.
Above: This is a new reproduction of a Victorian reed/wicker rocker.
Above: This is an old Victorian reed/wicker table.
Above: This is a new reproduction of a Victorian reed/wicker table.
Above: This is an old Victorian reed/wicker divan.
Above: This is a new reproduction of a Victorian reed/wicker divan.
Above: This is an example of old curlicues.