Reproduction Antique Artistry

I must admit that I’m not normally a fan of antique reproductions.

I’ll try to explain.


I’ve been antiquing for over three decades, and I’ve learned to love the patina of truly aged things.

I’ve rarely seen a reproduction that could fool me into thinking it was authentically old.

As I was writing this post, I thought of why that might be, and the best I can explain right now is:   In my opinion, it’s just very difficult, to truly recreate the timeworn patina of an antique.

Reproduction antiques normally look ‘too perfect’ or the paint work is not quite right.

Reason #2

Appearances aside, I like knowing that when I buy an antique, I’m buying something that’s genuinely old —  for what it is and how it looks, imperfections included.    I agree with one homeowner, recently featured in Cottages and Bungalows magazine – (I can’t find the quote at the moment so I’ll paraphrase her) – “Old things have soul.”

They totally do.

Reason #3

My aunt who’s been antiquing for at least 5 decades told me a long time ago:  generally speaking, antiques retain their value and can even increase in value over time.

Granted, this is a generality and not true in every single instance.  You can certainly overpay for an antique and some antiques can certainly go down in value.

But I will say this:  like a brand new car driven off the lot, new pieces often lose their value in a hurry.

What Changed My Mind?

Now, I still believe in my reasoning, but . . . 

What made me have a change of heart, at least to some small degree, was Daryl McMahon’s work.  He is an exceptional, multi-faceted artist, skilled at woodworking, painting, textiles . . . you name it.  His creations are absolutely stunning.

I believe you will agree with me, too, once you see a small sample of his art.

Daryl McMahon's Reproduction Antique Artistry - Living Vintage

Daryl McMahon's Reproduction Antique Artistry - Living Vintage

Daryl McMahon's Reproduction Antique Artistry - Living Vintage

Daryl McMahon's Reproduction Antique Artistry - Living Vintage

Daryl McMahon's Reproduction Antique Artistry - Living Vintage

Daryl McMahon's Reproduction Antique Artistry - Living Vintage

Daryl McMahon's Reproduction Antique Artistry - Living Vintage

1.  a gorgeous heavily distressed fireplace mantel   2.  French file boxes  3.  one of his oxidized zinc industrial lighting fixtures   4.  a gameboard  5.  apothecary bottles  6.  a nine-drawer spice cupboard  7.  a little wall cupboard

So I admit now that my reasoning may need to be tweaked a bit to exclude fine art which I personally believe can look authentic, be unique and very possibly, retain value.

My only caveat?  As long as the seller discloses it’s a reproduction, not an antique, then you can make your own decision.

(Mr. McMahon does this by the way.)

So what do you think?

Kim signature


  1. Yes, I agree with you on both counts. I’ve never been a fan of reproductions, and my husband really has “zero tolerance”! We like real antiques for the same reasons you do. I do like Darryl McMahon’s work, though, and you’re right to call it art. It’s in a whole different category than the “shabby chic” fake distressing you see so much of.

  2. I agree with you 100%, Kim, and most of the time I can tell real from repro (smell, feel, joints, nails, etc.). When vendors do not state as vintage- or antique-inspired (and not the real McCoy), it leaves me skeptical of anything that may truly be an antique (many vendors are putting it all together, leaving the public to wonder). That said, DM’s work is very tasteful.

  3. karen mcclurg says:

    Yep , he is awesome. Worriesome though , he surely discloses reproduction ….but does the next seller? I think we have to be very skeptical when buying anything , after seeing this work !

    Love the blog Kim , you’re pretty awesome , too. karen

    • That’s very true, Karen. I’ve seen that many dealers don’t disclose reproduction work, and I don’t like that one bit.

  4. I like antiques but, I also like that someone is artistically making antiques of tomorrow. I mean, why not? Didn’t that faux grain painter back in the day make an imitation wood piece we enjoy today as an antique? As long as there is disclosure I would use his pieces and enjoy them in my vintage home. I think we must be careful not to be rigid and never mix lovely pieces in our homes. One enhances the other. Just my view.

    • Yes, that’s so true. My main problem with reproductions is when sellers don’t disclose it. Obviously, Mr. McMahon doesn’t do that but many others do.

  5. Thanks for the mention and the kind words, Kim!
    I have to agree with you about reproductions vs. antiques, and I have no interest in misleading anyone.
    I do what I do because I love antiques, but either can’t find or can’t afford what I love. Ironically, while I go to great lengths to try any achieve something close to the warmth, quality and character of antiques, it irks me when I see my photos re-pinned and labelled as “antiques” on sites like Pinterest. To me, the whole point is that it looks or feels like it, but isn’t.
    With regards to the next seller… I always hide a tell-tale sign.

  6. Jaybird says:

    This is a well crafted post along with some beautiful art work. I am a dish person, so I do run into these same problems. I’m sorry, but my personal opinion is…if you advertise it as antique and it was made in the 1960’s, you should be fined or put out of business.
    Mr. McMahon is doing beautiful work and is following the rules of reproduction woodworking. Kudos to him and I am in full agreement with his/your philosophy!

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