Friday, February 5, 2010

Identify Antique Pig Tea Lights

Homework pays off when it comes to antiques.

Try as they might, even the most carefully wrought reproductions can't duplicate the old-world charm of genuine antiques. Reproductions also lose significant value over time, while the value of antiques generally increases. Without experience, it can be overwhelming to try and determine what's an antique and what's not. Typically, antique pig tea lights feature brass, copper or pewter bodies, an upturned snout and a shallow hole in the pig's back for a candle. More rarely, they're made of porcelain. Sizes range from two to five inches. If you're concerned you've stumbled upon a reproduction, don't worry. Telltale clues exist to help antique pig tea light collectors identify the real thing.


1. Examine the surface. Antique porcelain appears very white, almost translucent. It's also extremely hard. If chipped, the blemish will look moist and shiny. In contrast, contemporary soft-paste porcelain features an opaque finish, while cracks appear sugary and granular. Antique pewter may look smooth, but will feel rough. Soft dents may be visible. Antique brass often has copper blooms present. Antique copper takes on a rosy shade.

2. Inspect the seams. Copper or brass tea lights featuring a folded seam instead of a braised or dovetailed one may look old, but they're not antiques.

3. Check the bottom of your tea lights for a signature or maker's mark. Artisans frequently signed their work, identifying themselves and where the piece was made. Mass-marketed reproductions bear no mark.

4. Seek out irregularities. If your pig tea lights appear too smooth or too symmetrical, they're unlikely to be antiques. Antiques feature a hand-forged look, including surface roughness and hammer marks.

5. Request documents. A certificate of authenticity may be available for your antique pig tea lights, detailing their provenance. Although you shouldn't assume the tea lights are reproductions if a certificate isn't available, buyers can use the lack of documents to negotiate a better price.

6. Consult an appraiser. If you own antique pig tea lights and think they might be valuable, you might want to get a professional opinion. Contact a trusted antique dealer for a referral or contact the International Society of Appraisers to locate someone in your area. Confirm the appraiser is licensed and credited.

Tags: antique lights, they might, your lights