If you love mixing some older pieces into your living room decor, antique coffee tables offer a perfect way to add a little historic beauty. You can find them in a range of styles to fit any decor, including everything from antique coffee tables with claw feet for a Victorian touch to simple vintage styles for a more modern look. Discover the types of antique coffee tables and how much they are worth.
Types of Antique Coffee Tables
Coffee tables have been around since at least the early 20th century, according to Architectural Digest, but older versions, called "tea tables," date back to the 1700s. There's some variation in height among these tables, and many of the oldest examples are around 27 inches tall. Standard coffee table height in modern homes is about 18 inches. If you're shopping for an antique coffee table, it's a good idea to confirm the height will meet your expectations.
Antique Victorian Coffee Tables
Although some may predate the term "coffee table," Victorian low tables offer a way to get the functionality of a coffee table with that beautiful antique Victorian style. You'll see claw feet, ornate decoration, hand painting, and plenty of other lovely embellishments in these tables from the late 19th and early 20th century. One common example you may see in stores is a round antique coffee table with a pedestal base.
Edwardian Coffee Tables
During the Edwardian era, which encompasses the earliest years of the 20th century, the coffee table was just starting to become a popular fixture in living rooms. If you look carefully in antique shops and online, you can find coffee tables from this period. They often feature inlaid or pieced wood tops, hand-painted designs, and other decorations. Rectangular coffee tables are more common than round ones from this period.
Art Deco Coffee Tables
During the 1920s and 1930s, Art Deco styles became more popular. Coffee tables from this era feature sleek geometric shapes, lots of wood veneer, simple designs in contrast to the ornate styles of the Victorian era, and contrasting colors of wood. Some have brass or gold-toned accents, but these are not flashy or the focus of the design.
Antique and Vintage Coffee Table Sets
Some antique coffee tables come in sets of two or more that fit together. Often, these are not as low as a standard coffee table, and they may be more like end tables in a modern home. Nesting tables come in graduated sizes that can stack together to save space when they aren't in use.
Coffee Tables Made From Reclaimed Antiques
Some items, which may not have originally been intended for use as a table, make wonderful antique coffee tables. You can transform many things into coffee tables with antique appeal, including reclaimed trunks, industrial equipment, and other items that once had a practical purpose.
How to Find the Value of an Antique Coffee Table
If you are considering buying or selling an antique coffee table, it's important to know a bit about how to assign a value to these items. This will help you make sure you get a good deal on a purchase or avoid selling your valuable antique for less than it's worth.
Factors Affecting How Much a Vintage Coffee Table Is Worth
There are a number of factors that can affect the value of antique furniture, including coffee tables. Take a good look at the coffee table and consider the following:
- Condition - Time can be hard on furniture, especially pieces like coffee tables that may get a lot of hard use. Tables with unrestored surfaces in good condition will be worth the most, while chipped veneer, stains, cracks, and other damage will detract from value.
- Age - In general, older coffee tables will be worth more than their newer counterparts, all other factors being equal.
- Design trends - Current trends in design can affect the value of antiques, especially furniture pieces like coffee tables. When the trend is toward sleek designs, Art Deco styles and vintage coffee tables with simple lines will be worth more. If ornate pieces are in style, Victorian and Edwardian coffee tables may increase in value.
- Manufacturer - Take a moment to look for clues about the manufacturer of your coffee table. Identifying antique furniture is important because certain cabinet makers and furniture companies may be more valuable. Some examples include Stickley, Ethan Allen, and Drexel Heritage.
- Beauty - Although beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, an attractive coffee table is worth more than one that's not particularly pretty. These pieces are meant for display and use, so the coffee table needs to look nice in someone's living room.
Example Antique Coffee Table Values
One of the easiest ways to determine how much an old coffee table is worth is to look up recently sold examples that are similar. It's important to make sure you're comparing your coffee table to one that is as similar as possible in every way, including the condition. You should also make sure you compare to sold values, not what sellers are asking. Here are some examples to help:
- A Renaissance-style inlaid coffee table with an elaborate design on the top sold for around $3,800. It was in excellent condition and was very detailed and beautiful.
- A French Art Deco antique coffee table set sold for about $3,200. It included a coffee table and two end table in a simple circular design.
- A Victorian tiger oak coffee table dating to about 1900 sold for around $1,300. It was a simple design with a rectangular top that had been restored at some time in the past.
- A walnut coffee table carved with cherubs sold for about $700. It was in good condition with a glass tray top and dated to the Victorian era.
- A wicker coffee table by the Heywood Wakefield Furniture Company sold for under $150. It was in rough condition, with lots of staining and damage.
Antique Furniture Appraisals for Coffee Tables
If you're buying or selling a coffee table you think might be especially valuable, it may be worth having it appraised. Professional furniture appraisers can charge between $100 and $500 per hour to assign a value to your furniture, so it's only worth having something appraised if you think the value is high enough or if you need to insure the item for insurance or have a legal valuation for another purpose.
Where to Buy Antique and Vintage Coffee Tables
There are a number of places to buy an antique coffee table. Consider the following options:
- Online auctions - When it comes to buying an antique coffee table, eBay and other auction sites offer some of the best selection. The disadvantage, however, is the shipping. Coffee tables can be large and heavy, making shipping expensive.
- Chairish - Specializing in vintage and antique furniture, Chairish is a good place to look for something unique. You'll find coffee tables from all eras, although like online auctions, shipping can be costly.
- Fireside Antiques - If you're looking for something really special, Fireside Antiques is a good place to find an antique coffee table. They have pieces from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
- Local antique stores - One of the best ways to find an antique coffee table is to browse at local antique stores. You won't have to pay shipping, and you can examine the coffee table in person to see if you like it.
Lots to Learn About Antique Furniture
Whether you're buying an antique coffee table for your home or simply want to know more about one you already own, there's a lot to learn about antique furniture. The more you can find out about a piece, the better you'll be at determining its age and value. What's more, knowing the history and background of your coffee table can give you more enjoyment when you display it in your living room.