Antiques in Pairs: Everything you need to know

In the world of antiques, our guide Iain Brunt, Founder of and global art consultant, explores the quest for authenticity. You may have wondered about the meaning of an ‘original’ pair and how difficult it can be to find an original pair of antiques. But is it really that simple? Let’s find out.


What are ‘pairs’ of antiques?

You’d not be blamed for thinking that you know this already. But – ‘pairs’ of antiques are not always the same – what’s much more important to their definition as a pair is that they should complement each other. For example, this pair are not the same as they have different images in the back, but they are a pair. These Black Forest Hall chairs are a great illustration of an original pair of antiques.

As you can see, they complement each other. If they didn’t complement each other, they would just be two of the same item. Any antiques dealer trying to sell identical pieces as a pair would be wrong. That’s why it’s important that you scrutinise any antiques being sold in pairs. It’s much harder to find original pairs than you might imagine. 

Paintings are never the same but the views complement one another like this pair of Marine landscapes, perfect for any study or snug


These fabulous dog sculptures talking to each other, would be perfect for any hallway and entrance.


What I love about pairs

What I love about pairs is symmetry, and especially in larger spaces, symmetry is really important. For example, in a large hallway, one lamp standing by itself wouldn’t adequately fill the space – you’d really need a pair of them. The same might go for benches – here’s a great example of a pair of large Kinross House benches that would really complement each other in a large hallway.

Above: Pair of Kinross House benches, £2,750 / $3,475

In my early days of antique dealing, I set up and opened a company called Pairs Antiques, which, funnily enough, specialised only in pairs of antiques! 


Collecting antiques in pairs: what to know

Collecting pairs takes patience – ask any interior designer.

The most obvious antiques in pairs to collect are mirrors, chairs and side tables which would look good in a hallway or dining room.


Side tables are often the most difficult and although these two are identical they make a fabulous pair

I also really like this pair of display cabinets for trinkets, or useful in a kitchen for spices. They are a great pair; take a look at the locks they oppose each other.

Pairs of antique paintings

These oak framed mirrors are charming, but there’s a crucial detail you might have missed. They should actually be displayed the other way around. The flowers and butterflies should face each other, creating a different effect.

That’s why it’s crucial for pairs of antiques to complement each other, rather than just being duplicates of the same item.

To determine whether antiques form a true pair, consider looking for slight variations in each piece. Are they part of a larger scene or designed to be positioned together in a specific way? If they’re exactly the same, they’re merely carbon copies and not a genuine pair!

Antiques in pairs – expert’s choice. Take a look at more of our antiques on


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