Debbie McArdle said her journey learning about antiques started when she visited the Fox Valley Antiques Show as a young adult and talked with the dealers there.
Here are the types of details she shared about items decorating her home.
• Punched paper celebrating America's Centennial: These embroidered pieces differ in value according to the workmanship of the embroidery, whether the artist added expensive items like gold thread, the scene depicted, and of course condition.
• The McArdles recommend against buying part of a piece of furniture, for example the bottom of a cabinet that supported another one. However, they did just this to get a cherry piece that held their television until they purchased a flat screen. Now it hides other electronic equipment.
• The couple examines furniture carefully before purchasing. The island in their kitchen is unusual for its small size, but checking the interior convinced them it had not been cut down from a larger piece. The same is true of the lawyers' bookcase that fits in a corner of their family room.
• Old forged nails bleed or leave a stain on the wood, showing they were together for a long time, rather than having parts added later.
-- Deborah Donovan