Antiques 101 – Digging Deeper Tour

Real or Reproduction? New Antiques 101 Tour at WDS

colonial chairIf you’ve wondered whether the dining set you inherited is really an antique, or merely dreamt of hitting it big on “Antiques Roadshow,” the new “Antiques 101” Digging Deeper Tour at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum could prove helpful. “Antiques 101” is a workshop-style tour during which participants can learn some of the basics on how to distinguish authentic colonial furniture from reproductions. November 11, 2017, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Tickets are $20 and available below.

The “Antiques 101” Digging Deeper Tour includes a short period of classroom instruction with thoughtful details designed for the antiques novice, such as small, handcrafted examples of joints and dovetailing created by the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking for handling and close examination. Participants will receive pointers on comparing colonial furniture styles, features and construction—using pieces from the museum’s prized collection—and will have the chance to apply what they’ve learned by diagnosing the authenticity of furniture at the museum. Other extras include helpful, take-home handouts with titles such as “Know Thy Drawers.”


“We wanted to come up with a fun, accessible tour for the average person who is interested in antiques but may feel a bit intimidated about asking too many questions in an antiques shop,” says WDS guide Helena Reilly, who is also known for portraying Mrs. Silas Deane at many Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum events. While working at WDS last year, Reilly confided in her colleague, Bruce Henley, that though she’d worked there for 10 years, surrounded by fine antiques, she couldn’t always tell an antique from a reproduction. A collector and antique reproduction craftsman for many years, Henley willingly gave her a quick tutorial on antiques basics, and the pair soon realized they had a great idea for a public tour. They have been developing and refining the tour since the fall of 2016.

Digging Deeper Tours are professionally curated, interactive, behind-the-scenes examinations of specific aspects of the lives of the former residents of the three homes that comprise the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum. During development of the tour, Reilly and Henley enlisted the aid of seasoned curator Richard Malley, whose 40-plus years of history-museum experience helps create intriguing new tours at WDS. Malley notes the museum’s period-furniture collection includes splendid examples of local and regional styles and forms, and provides the perfect laboratory for learning more about antiques.

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