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It is the bark stripped from the canes, however, which was soaked and woven into wicker pieces.This bark was also used to wrap around wood (often the stripped core of the original rattan) to make frames, legs and backs.The manufactured range of wicker furniture (most of it still rattan) was tremendous, and included chairs, tables, love seats, beds and even wheeled chairs used on the boardwalks of popular resort towns such as Atlantic City.
The wood is solid, unlike bamboo, which is hollow, but it does have section joints.
Larger pieces have been used for Malacca canes, beloved of London gentlemen, for centuries.
Even if the style matches a catalogue from the 1890s, for example, it might be a recently-imported piece from Asia.
Without a sure way to judge the age or an article of provenance, it’s often difficult to tell. But, many would say that this is part of the challenge, even the joy, of collecting antique rattan furniture. Using a discerning eye, some common sense, a few good reference books and sometimes, just taking a leap of faith is all part of the great collecting game.
For rattan furniture collectors, add to that the problem of the material itself. Are other materials mixed in, either during production or afterwards. It takes experience and careful examination to tell, sometimes.