Old dining room sets are destined to be dumped at transfer stations

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today's antiques.scott davisDo you have a 1930s to 1940s vintage dining room set in your home? Chances are that you do because there were an enormous number of those sets made during that period, as so many young couples got married and set up new homes in preparation for the young men to go off to war.  Needless to say, the sets were rarely used during the war days of the early ‘40s, and most were not used much more during the recovery years of the late ‘40s.

Then, once the baby boom started in the ‘50s, the sets might have been used during the holidays but rarely ever any other time, so most of them have endured in remarkably good condition despite being at least 75 years old. Today, most of the sets aren’t used at all except as catchalls for granny’s inherited knick-knacks and the “good china” that is used with equal infrequency.

Despite the fact that most of the sets have been preserved so well for so long, one of the biggest problems with them as antiques is that their designs are usually not of interest to collectors. Having been made during either the Great Depression or World War II, it only stands to reason in retrospect that there was very little innovation in furniture design during that 20 year span.

With manufacturers all focusing on survival and/or the war effort, most furniture made during that period was slapped together using design elements companies had on hand from prior periods. It’s not unusual to find elements of the William & Mary, Chippendale, Sheraton, Hepplewhite, Empire, Victorian and art deco periods all rather flippantly combined together in one piece of furniture. That might make them interesting novelties, with no historical value.

The owners of those relics of a bygone ideal of a lifestyle that included frequent luxurious entertaining are now stuck with the reality that the sets never really did make sense for most families, and that they made even less sense for future generations. Today, most dining rooms are being converted to computer rooms and newer home designs don’t even include a formal dining room. That means those sets are almost all destined for landfills.  As such, expect most antiques and consignment shops to turn away all but the most remarkable examples.

Scott Davis operates Rhode Island Antiques Mall, 345 Fountain St., Pawtucket. Contact him at (401) 475-3400 or Scott@riantiquesmall.com.

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