In the very beginning, what was considered to be furniture was something an ancient man and woman would make out of mud, stone, branches, sand, and other natural materials. It was purely functional and not meant to really last or have an intricate aesthetic value. As time went by, and our needs progressed alongside technology, our stance in regard to furniture changed. We still opt for functionality, more than ever, but now aesthetic value played a significant factor in the very making and preserving of a piece of furniture. 

One such piece of furniture, that became a source of high aesthetic value in a household is the china cabinet. Typically place against the wall, built from wood and glass, the china cabinet served a special purpose; to act as a display of all the special porcelain, or china, as well as silverware and glassware to the household guests. We humans really like to show off our possession, so much so that we even have a special piece of furniture for it. 

Modern china cabinets are beautiful in their own ways, however, nothing comes close to the antique pieces where the craftsmanship and lifelong quality really stand out. If you’re interested in antique china cabinets or are looking to sell or purchase one, you’re in the right spot. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go over the very origin of this furniture piece, its purpose, and of course, the current market value. So, let’s get started!

China Cabinets – Everything You Need To Know

Origin and History

With the rise of the export of Japanese and Chinese export porcelain in the 16th century, it has been realized that the pieces are too beautiful to just be put somewhere away from the guests. So came china cabinets into existence. It is believed that they already existed in 16th-century England and the Netherlands, where the import of Japanese and Chinese porcelain was at its highest. 

The cabinets would store and simultaneously display the incredible porcelain pieces, and other intriguing, delicate items. This made the cabinets not only functional, as in keeping the porcelain pieces safe and sound, but also a form of display art. Many even describe such cabinets as a frame for a beautiful painting.

It wasn’t long before all of the wealthy Europeans were in possession of these beautiful and elegant china cabinets. The 16th and 17th-century cabinets were handmade and hand-carved from wood. They were intricately designed and decorated so that the cabinets were a piece of art themselves. In the next 200 years, china cabinets would become even more decorative, featuring intricate handles, beautiful glass doors, and other decorative elements that made them stand out among other household furniture.

To make everything even more on display, china cabinets were often placed against walls, opposite the windows in the house. This would make the wealth (the porcelain, or china pieces) even more on display. They were generally placed around the house, but mostly in dining rooms and other formal areas of the home. Nevertheless, wherever they were placed, china cabinets were the star of the show or the focal point of the room.

Antique China Cabinets Value

Considering the luxury that antique china cabinets were, and continue to be even nowadays, it is essential to know that they’re pretty expensive. They were part of wealthy households back in the day, and are so nowadays. But, even with a budget, it can be possible to come across a genuine, antique china cabinet and not have to sell all of your belongings to purchase it. Let’s take a look at some average prices you can expect in the current market;

Antique China Cabinet - Antique China Cabinets Value

This is an extremely rare example of an 18th-century Queen Anne secretaire, with the intricate Japanese black and gold lacquer finish. It is an incredible piece of furniture, estimated to cost around 13,000 USD. It features drawers, display shelves, pull-out supports for a writing surface, and even a hidden compartment. The cabinet is absolutely exceptional and a high-quality period piece. 

Antique China Cabinet - English Georgian Mahogany China Cabinet 

This English Georgian-style china cabinet is an excellent example of a traditional furniture piece. It has all the traditional china cabinet elements; beautiful woodwork, wood detailing, overall exceptional construction, and two huge glass swing doors. It is in marvelous condition and is currently being sold for 7,800 USD. It is significantly cheaper than the previous piece, but still highly expensive. 

Antique Oak Curio China Cabinet

Antique China Cabinet - Antique Oak Curio China Cabinet

Now, this one is a perfect example of the antique china cabinets often sold at antique shops. It is a simple, yet elegant china cabinet made from oak. It has a so-called serpentine shape, glass shelves, as well as a one-piece large glass door (that comes with a key lock). The cabinet features the original finish, which nowadays looks a bit dull (and is a clear indicator that the cabinet is indeed antique). The current price for this one is 2,300 USD, which makes it significantly cheaper than the previous pieces.

Antique China Cabinet - Vintage Baker Furniture Mahogany Breakfront China Cabinet

Whenever people think of an antique china cabinet, something similar to this vintage Baker cabinet pops into their minds. This is a classic china cabinet that many of us have seen at our grandmother’s place. It is rather huge, and features a lot of storage room, including additional cabinets and drawers, alongside the main display area with 4 glass doors. This mahogany cabinet is made to last, and its traditional exterior makes it an evergreen piece of furniture. It is currently sold for 4,600 USD and is shipped within the States.

Antique China Cabinet - Antique Edwardian Sheraton China Cabinet 

This stunning antique Edwardian china cabinet/bookcase was made in the early 20th century, in the so-called Sheraton manner (late 18th-century neoclassical English furniture style). It has a rather delicate appearance, with a glass-fronted top. It is in great condition for an antique china cabinet, ready to be used for generations to come. This one is currently sold for a great price of 1,580 USD, which is great and shows a nice range in prices compared to previous pieces.

Purchasing China Cabinets in 2023

Despite the interior design trends changing almost every single season, some things simply never go out of style, and china cabinets remain that evergreen pieces of furniture even nowadays. However, you cannot simply go to a furniture store and expect to find and buy an old-school type of china cabinet. For this, one needs to resort to the antique pieces. And, the antique china cabinets are simply the most beautiful and the most elegant you’ll ever come across. But, what do you need to take into consideration when purchasing such an antique piece in 2023? 

When purchasing an antique china cabinet, it is important to consider the style and design of the cabinet, as well as its condition. Antique china cabinets that are in good condition are highly sought after, and they can be quite expensive. It is important to do your research and to work with a reputable dealer to ensure that you are purchasing an authentic antique china cabinet that is in good condition.

In addition to considering the style and condition of the cabinet, it is also important to consider the size and location of where the cabinet will be placed. Antique china cabinets come in a variety of sizes, and it is important to choose a cabinet that will fit in the space where it will be displayed. It is also important to consider the location of the cabinet, as it should be displayed in an area that is free from direct sunlight and other potential sources of damage, which is quite the opposite of what people did back in the day.

So, to summarize, when purchasing an antique china cabinet, make sure to;

  • Take into consideration the condition of the cabinet, especially the condition of the wood, the finish, as well as the drawer pulls – the paint on the cabinet should be dull, featuring some scratches or cracking of the paint.
  • Pay attention to the nails and screws; if they look new, shiny, and have a bright metallic finish, then it is not an antique china cabinet – antique cabinets featured square wood nails.
  • Consider the condition of the cabinet, whether it is stable-standing, not wobbly or unstable in any way – check the joints, legs, handles, and other pieces that can be easily replaced (but shouldn’t be if it’s a real antique piece).
  • Pay attention to the condition of the glass as well – antique glass is thicker (especially at the bottom), and has a bluish tinge (especially that from the Depression era).
  • Check the labeling – antique china cabinets often feature labels and manufacturers’ marks, often on the very back, or lower edges of the cabinet. Bear in mind that the antique labels were made of paper, so if a cabinet doesn’t have one, chances are it has fallen off (considering that everything else looks legit and genuine).

Where To Buy Antique China Cabinets?

Here are some of our favorite online antique stores where you can purchase genuine, antique china cabinets; these are reliable online stores with a great reputation among antique collectors and enthusiasts;

  • 1stDibs – this is one of the best places to purchase incredible-quality, genuine, antique china cabinets, and, of course, other antique furniture pieces. The prices are pretty high, but there are frequent sales which are pretty convenient. If you want to purchase genuine antiques, from a reliable place, this is where you should do your purchasing.
  • Chairish – another exceptional online antique store is Chairish. Here, you can find everything antique, including china cabinets. The prices vary from 1000 USD upwards. There is basically something for anyone, so make sure to check it out.
  • Ebay – this is a no-brainer; Ebay has it all, and of course, a great collection of antique china cabinets. The prices are great, and there’s a wide range of selection, between cheaper and expensive cabinets. 
  • Etsy – this is yet another no-brainer; Etsy is an excellent place to purchase good-quality antique china cabinets for a rather reasonable price. Of course, there are some high-end pieces, but overall, you’ll come across some great, budget-friendly finds.
  • Ruby Lane – similar to 1stDibs, Ruby Lane is a high-end online antique store that sells incredible antique pieces, including china cabinets. The prices are on the higher end as well, but there are frequent sales where usually expensive pieces become more affordable. Make sure to check out the site regularly to catch sales, and discount offers.

Final Thoughts

Antique china cabinets are a beautiful and functional piece of furniture that has been popular for centuries and will probably be even more popular in the future. These cabinets were originally created to store and display valuable china and other delicate items, and they have since become a staple in many homes around the world. Antique china cabinets are not only functional, but they are also beautiful pieces of art that can add elegance and sophistication to any home. Nowadays, they offer a great insight into the craftsmanship and beauty of handmade furniture of the past. Hopefully, this article has piqued your interest and helped you out in your research!

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