- The first sign to look for is the hand carved details, because they are what strikes you before you turn the furniture upside down for a closer look at the frame. The elaborate design will show signs of being hand made, no matter how perfect the craftsman who created it was. Older 19th century pieces have pronounced detail on the legs and arms.
- Turn the couch over. The frame should be robust and have a strong construction. If you see screws,glue and modern joints, it may still be old - but maybe it's not what you are looking for. Dovetailed joints are what will hold an antique together.
- Look for older materials used in the padding. These include horsehair and down feathers.
- Do an all around check. You don't know where it was stored. Water damage, mildew and finally a cracked frame are some obvious things you will want to avoid or figure out how you want to go about repairing .