The patina on the Chinese antique furniture was created by centuries of uneven wear to the lacquered
finish. Patina attests to authenticity, antiquity and retains or increases its true value.
Patina on antiques could be pay dirt
Same old story: You may someday regret cleaning your treasures.
One of our friends had a bronze censer and asked us to appraise it three years ago. He spent some
time cleaning the bronze censer because it looked like dirt to him. The polished bronze censer looked
absolutely stunning. But where an untouched censer may have been worth $10,000, his cleaned censer
was only worth around $1,500. It's easy to clean, but you can never get the patina back unless you
want to wait for anther century. Never attempt to clean the patina because it tells the story of
where the piece has been, how it was used and where it came from. In many instances, true patina can
authenticate a piece and separate the genuine from the fake, can retain or increase the true value.
Whether to clean or refinish an antique piece?
The rule of thumb: If in doubt, don't. The reason is that if you clean or refinish it, people might
suspect it is a restoration or reproduction. It is always safer to preserve the patina until the piece
is appraised. So you know for sure whether you are unknowingly removing the history that makes the
piece interesting. Even if you think the patina is unimportant in dating the piece, it is still a good idea
to take before and after pictures to document its original unfinished condition, so later you still can
show the buyer or appraiser the history of your pieces.
It doesn't make any sense to spend more money to buy antique furniture, then refinish it to make it
look new like a restoration or reproduction.
Should you clean Chinese antique wood furniture?
Yes. clean with beewax and soft, lint-free cloth. Do not strip.
Should you clean the patina of the brass/bronze hardware
No, it's wise not to remove the evidence of the piece's history or refinish it, otherwise it will
devalue the piece instead of retaining or increasing its true value.
White Mei Flower