Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Would You Rather...?

Following my previous post on Ralph Lauren Home's current antique-inspired RLH Collection I received an email from my friend Bonny of Bonny Neiman Antiques in Summit, New Jersey with a photo of this beautiful, 19th-century step-back cupboard,

It is a near twin to the RLH Jelly Cupboard, inspired by a circa 1850 design from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, pictured below.

It raised the question...if you are considering the purchase of high-end furniture, would it be wiser to invest in antiques ? (As an aside, Bonny mentioned the authentic antique cupboard lists on her website for a fraction of the RLH reproduction cupboard's suggested retail price.)

Let's make a few more comparisons and play Would You Rather...?, the adult version. (The adolescent version of the game, inevitably played during the last hour of a long car trip, being trying to determine the less awful of two revolting alternatives.)

From Cupboards and Roses in Sheffield, Massachusetts, one of a pair of Swedish rococo-style armchairs, circa 1900.

The RLH 18th-century Swedish-inspired design:

From Sugar Barrel Antiques in Vancouver, a solid oak, Scottish gateleg table, circa 1910.

The RLH mid 18th-century-style pine table:

From Architectural Anarchy in Chicago, a circa 1940 hand-painted wood and metal bucket.

The RLH reproduction Dutch colonial tea stove:

From Tone on Tone, a French painted end table with cabriole legs, circa 1900 to 1920.

The RLH late-18th-century-style table with cabriole legs.

Also from Tone on Tone, a Swedish Klismos-style painted chair, circa 1890-1920.

The RLH Neoclassic dining chair inspired by a design from the early 19th-century.

From Columbus Architectural Salvage in Columbus, Ohio, a large, vintage turned-wood architectural finial, and from Charles Spada Antiques in Boston, an early-20th-century French triangular-shaped sculptors pedestal.

The RLH covered urn and four-legged sculptor's pedestal.

From Epoca in San Francisco, a carved English Georgian-style ivory painted and parcel-gilt circular mirror circa 1860.

The RLH bull's-eye mirror inspired by a mid-19th-century French design:

The only piece from the previous post that I left out was the upholstered frame sofa. That is something I would likely buy new. And of the pieces here, with one exception, I would chose the antique in every instance.


  1. I would rather have the real deal over a reproduction any day of the week.

  2. Depending on how it will be used...I too would rather have the antique. I worked for Ethan Allen for many years and developed an appreciation for reproductions.( Most of EA's line is made using an antique as the model.)
    I have recently discovered that I prefer antiques when they will not come into contact with food or clothing. (I had my clothes stored in a well kept antique armoire and no matter how I tried...my clothes always had a vintage smell to them.)
    I guess it just depends on the piece.
    Have a wonderful week Phyllis!

  3. Fun post....for me I would always opt for the antique if in good condition and I can afford it:) I love knowing there is a history behind something and the patina of an antique piece is almost always superior. But RH has come out with some really fabulous pieces as have many other manufacturers (almost all interestingly Dutch) and its nice to know that if you cannot find an antique version of whatever you are after, chances are its available as a new item in the marketplace.

  4. that is amazing, great pairings. My heart will always go for the antique...takes more effort to find them, but worth the hunt. RL pieces reflect our society I suppose. All looking for instant gratification.

  5. Every piece you featured is beautiful... always choose antique for sure. Most reproductions are not as well done as the Ralph Lauren line. An antique is an investment! Great sources for your readers, thanks!

  6. I would always chose the antique version also. It has history, character and a retail value that new furniture does not have. New furniture is used furniture as soon as it leaves the store. An antique may go out of favor but is always an antique and retains value.
    Also, I love antiques with contemporary furniture. Interesting post.

  7. Always the antique for me.

    Junking is easy in Atlanta.

    Garden & Be Welll, XO Tara

  8. To me it is like comparing an original oil painting to a print--no depth, dimension, saturation of color, etc. in the print.

  9. For me, it's antique every time and always has been - unless I REALLY can't afford the antique that is!
    Paula x

  10. I almost ALWAYS go with antiques. But then again, it depends on where you're using it! Love all of these pieces!

  11. Definitely the originals whether people or antiques! You can't fake authenticity....there is depth and soul in an old piece. I buy from flea markets and garage sales, but take care to buy with a design sense...not all old things are worth having or preserving;)! Your post Phyllis is a reminder to keep an eye out for the originals. I guess RL is reminding us, that if we can't find old..then you can buy reproductions. Great post!!!

  12. For me- antique! I love using something and wondering who used it before me. I also think about the craftsman who made it and wondered about his life. I love not being able to open drawers and for that matter, not being able to close drawers:-) It is part of the love!! xo, K

    1. A little beeswax will take care of those drawers!


    2. And sometimes a tiny bit of sanding in cases of swelling. Loi

  13. Hey Phyllis ~
    Antiques 4 SURE!!! Thank you my friend for including our pieces! :) Tom and I are heading up to Maine for a short holiday. I'll be on the lookout for some antique New England painted pieces. And I hope to eat lots and lots of lobster!!

  14. I prefer antique pieces.... of course sometimes I can't afford the antique piece and have to settle on the reproduction instead! LOL
    Have a great week!

  15. 42 years have been a decorator........I am still saying the same thing my mother taught me before I even started working!

    Buy the real thing! and continue to upgrade if you want...

    All this stuff at Restoration Hardware is "fake antiques made in China"!

    I say...."just say no!" there is no value......nothing of value.....and it is junk.....and there may be poisonous varnish or stain. I would not allow any of it into my house!

    Interesting the "genius" behind it all.......fired right before the IPO for "inappropriate sexual relationship" with a young associate.....(who was hiding from him!

    Stay away from this fake stuff! Just my opinion! I LOVE old reproductions......find them in "vintage" shops.....and all over! That is the best recycling!

    Buying "new antiques" is just fueling the wretched conditions in China for children and adults!

    There is a ton of wonderful reproduction furniture hitting the "antique" stores right now!

    Made in Michigan in the 30's! Wonderful solid furniture!

    Just say no to that fake Chinese stuff!

    And the bad guy.....GARY. YUCK! (I didn't like him when I saw his "bad face lift!!) EWWWWWWW!!

  16. Hi Phyllis,
    There are some great looking repro pieces out there, but for me I like the old and battered!
    Hope you have a lovely day,

  17. I much prefer the genuine article and all the history it wears on its surface. That cannot be reproduced. Of course, there is a place for both based on price and use as long as it is made in the USA. We have a fine furniture manufacturing center right here. When I buy a new piece, I buy one of these.

  18. I go for the antique/original always. I was brought up this way, always going to auctions, tag sales antique shops and have some furniture passed down through my family from the 17th century. The "Ikea" model of poorly made, inexpensive furniture is just adding to our throw-away, choke the landfills culture. And frankly, you can find great, well made vintage pieces for much less than you'll spend at Ikea and they will actually last :)

  19. What a great post Phyllis. Without a doubt old is always better than new. It has taken me years to get my husband to allow a single reproduction in our home. There are exceptions in my mind. For instance dining room chairs, coffee tables etc. However I would always choose the original when possible. Daiseyjayne said it best.

  20. Hands down, antiques over new but usually the price for an antique is greater than for a new piece, right? Very nice examples.

    1. Hi Karen, I have a reply for you straight from the source, the tireless and intrepid Bonny Neiman herself says, "Antiques are not always more expensive when you purchase from an Antique addict who prices things to sell so she can get on the hunt again." Happy hunting to all!

  21. I'm with you Phyllis, a sofa I would buy brand new but everything else here I would buy the antiques. I know from experiance to always buy what my heart really wants, antique, because I know I'll keep starring at the repo knowing I should have gone with the real thing. Always go for the best your money can buy even if it's only one piece a year.


  22. I absolutely agree. If my budget allows, I will always choose the antique over the new. Not only do I like the idea that the piece has a history and a patina that can't be duplicated, it is also the environmentally friendly choice to make. Great post. x Sharon

  23. Cant believe RL was more expensive than the antique blue cupboard. I would buy the antique. Its hard to reproduce the patina of an antique.

  24. Phyllis, thank you for including my cupboard in your post! To answer the "cost" comment. Antiques are not always more expensive when you purchase from an Antique addict who prices things to sell so she can get on the hunt again. I loved your comparisons, really a pleasure to read. Nothing like that history that comes along with that heart racing patina!

  25. Adore Bonnie's Cupboard and the pieces from Loi. Well I love all of the antiques.
    If I have the budget I will always go antique! I am sure the RLH prices are even more than most of the Restoration Hardware. It is really a joke to me! Especially the RH "Un-Upholstered pieces."

    Loved all of the comparisons Phyllis.

    Art by Karena

  26. I would always rather buy a real antique rather than a replica. There is something so good about a piece that has been aged by use, rather than aged in a factory! And hunting for antiques is part of the joy!

  27. It so nice to see that people like the real thing hands down. I would agree EXCEPT where comfort is concerned. I would prefer a new sofa or chair or bed, especially if it's a piece that's going to be used everyday.

    The RL pieces sure are nice reproductions though.

    (I don't know how your blog escaped me for all this time! I know many of your followers.)


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