Smart car owners make sure their cars get routine checkups. They rarely do the same for their fine antiques, which may be more valuable than the family car. Michael Corbett provides this service for them at Federalist Antiques, a Kenilworth, Ill., store specializing in the sale of furniture and accessories from the American Federal period.

Several years after a sale, he offers certain customers a free consultation with a professional furniture restorer in the customer's home. The one-hour house call provides an opportunity for the restorer to touch up finishes, make minor adjustments, and identify other problems before they become serious. The restorer may move a fine oil painting hanging directly above a steam radiator or put a leveling shim under an armoire to prevent the doors from binding. When more serious problems are detected, customers may arrange with Corbett to have the work done, or they can make their own arrangements.

House calls do more than protect antiques. Corbett educates customers about the historical use of the pieces he sells and advises about the best possible uses for them in the home. He has also resold furniture that customers no longer need. The visits, Corbett says, keep him in touch with good customers and with the antiques he has sold.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing