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The Movers: An Antique’s Worst Nightmare

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movers and antiques
Moving a piece of furniture (especially a valued or fragile piece) has been a task of human beings for as long as we have had a history. Getting a piece (whether it is a piano, a table, a bench, a bed, or even an antique building) from point A to point B has gone through many changes in the past few-thousand years. As recently as a century and a half ago, furniture items would have to be carefully taken out of a house, and then precariously loaded onto a horse-drawn buggy. Next the furniture piece would have to endure a long and slow trip on bumpy and jolting dirt roads that were often little more than a dirt line through the countryside.

Sometimes, the journey would continue further, and the piece would be hoisted high into the sky and dropped into the bowels of a steam-powered liner, where the furniture would be secured from the bashing of waves and rocking of the decks. Other times, the piece might have to continue its journey by train, which in the 19th century was far from a smooth ride.  Another long and frazzling buggy ride would then take the piece to its new destination.

For families in the 1800s, every single piece of furniture, clothing, collectibles… Literally, all possessions were antique, valuable, and quite fragile. But in those days, people weren’t as worried about items getting damaged during a move. Because the items were so valuable to them, every precaution was taken to ensure the pieces safe journey.

2013 – A lot has changed in 150 years. Today, our buggies have been replaced with state of the art transport trucks that have a multitude of safety options to keep furniture and possessions tied-up and secured. The tires and suspension on these trucks (as well as the highly-maintained roads we have today) should be more than enough to keep all of our favorite furniture and items safe during a move. However, as anyone who has moved in the past 50 years knows all too well, more shipped goods get damaged today, than those hundreds of years ago. This is due to a few reasons.

Patience (or lack thereof)

In modern times, we have had to adjust to a very rigorous schedule in our day-to-day lives, this has diminished our sense of patience – as individuals and as a society. Whereas a quick move across the country would have taken 3-6 months 150 years ago, today it can be done in 2-3 days. This quickening of pace may be much more reasonable for us today, but should remind us to pay a little extra attention to exactly how shipped items are packed and secured.

Cheap Products

Products made 150 years ago, compared to those made today, were made exponentially heavier. Using heavier building materials such as cast-iron, oak wood, steel, and other materials that have great inherent strength, these older items may have been a tougher job to lift and move, but they were also built stronger. A well-built product can withstand more torment than a cheaply built one, and will not see the types of damages as modern products.


Moving furniture is hard work, and not a lot of fun. When forced into moving furniture, you might get a little antsy or upset, asking yourself, “when will this be over with?” Don’t get lazy on yourself now, or your prized furniture will suffer the consequences. Take a little extra time with each article, add extra blankets in between items that can scratch each other, and think about how secure those items are from rocking side to side, as well as back and forth. Items such as pianos — or other pieces with moving parts — almost always require extra attention and planning before a move, so consider all of these things before loading onto a truck – this will save you a lot of hassle and time and money.

So to keep your furniture protected during a move, and put yourself in the shoes of those who had to move during the 1800s. This will keep you reminded of just how much securing needs to be done, that you can’t just throw everything in there and hope it will be okay. Use some planning, and your antiques and treasures will make it through the trip in one piece.

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