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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Dreaded Dark Mark

Black marks on antique furniture are often mistaken for burn marks or imperfections in the wood grain.

The truth is that most black marks on furniture are a result of the surface being damp (such as a wet vase base or damp item being left on the furniture). Often water marks are polished or waxed over before they have been given suffcient time to dry out, meaning the moisture is then locked into the surface of the furniture with no way of getting out.

This then results in the dreaded 'Dark Mark', a black shape on the surface that cannot be removed unless the furniture is completely stripped back down the bare wood. (Not advisable with antique furniture!)
This Drop leaf table shows a small example of a water mark at the back on the right, although having been made around 1740 it has withstood over 250 years of use! 18th Century Drop Leaf Table

 Regency Mahogany Dining Table

Dining Tables, sideboards and larger items of furniture are most commonly afflicted by black marks, due to their practical uses and surface area. The dining table above is a high quality Regency dining table, with an excellent condition surface, although you can imagine how black marks could happen given the expanse of such surfaces and 200 years of use!

In general, black water marks add to the character of the item, especially with pre 18th century items, as they become part of the surfaces patina, which has developed over time. 

Insight by Graham Smith Antiques
Advice on Care of Antiques

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