Proportion
At first glance, the two chests above look identical.  But notice the chest on the left has 6 drawers in the upper case, while the right has 5.  The turned legs are different.  The chest on the right has a different finish and even the species of primary (external) wood is different.  The similarity that we perceive is chiefly a combination of the similar proportions, and a few similar details.
 
For centuries, furniture collectors and connoisseurs have narrowly defined beauty in terms of proportion. The finest pieces, like both above, exhibit specific classical proportions, thousands of years old.  Furniture lacking such proportions has often been incorrectly attributed to  “country” or “naive” builders.  
 
When shopping for a reproduction, be sure to step away from a piece that interests you to more fully consider its proportion.  Is it top heavy?  Is there something unsettling about it?  Or does it look “right”.  The more you look at period furniture, the better your ability to judge will be.    
The piece above (click it) is one of my favorites as it really embodies the workaday sensibilities of early craftsmen. One can see the the marks of the hand plane used to smooth it its wide boards.  This piece wasn’t distressed or faux finished.  It was simply built using the tools from the period.  
 
Seeking the greatest possible authenticity, this piece was built in the same amount of time alloted to 18th century craftsmen building similar pieces.  That additional constraint, based on primary source documentary evidence, turned out to be the chief contributor to the look of this piece.
Value
The piece on the left (above) was built in 1726 for a wealthy merchant.  In 1726, this was one of the finest and most expensive pieces of furniture in Philadelphia.  Only about 25 such pieces were ever built by its maker and only 2 survive.  It currently resides in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  I estimate its value at well over $500,000.  
 
At right is my version.  Depending on the stock chosen, my reproduction typically costs about $10,000.  In my opinion, this is the best reason to choose a reproduction; for only a little more than you’d pay in a high quality furniture store, you can have a near exact copy of a masterpiece.
Details
Hardware and moldings are obvious details and they are important.  But less noticeable details are often the difference between a crude copy and a masterpiece.
Construction
Modern period furniture makers shy away from discussions about their construction methods.  They use misleading terms such as “hand crafted”, “bench made”, or “hand rubbed”, to mislead buyers into thinking authentic methods were used.
Furniture
People sometimes ask me why they should chose a reproduction over an antique.  This page will answer that question, and in the process, provide a sense for my work, as well as some tips you can use when shopping for reproduction furniture.  
This piece is rife with iconographic motifs, and “hidden in plain sight messages” to all who view it.  The basic height to width relationship, like all of the finest pieces of this style, appears to be defined by the golden section (.618).
This picture shows a few details characteristic of the period.  A delicate trim (called cockbeading) punctuates the intricate scroll work on the bottom of the case.  A careful examination reveals the hand forged nails used to attach these pieces, just like the original.  In the lower right hand corner, the dovetails used to attach the side to the front can be seen.  The shape of the hand cut molding at the top of the picture clearly varies, drawing one’s eye.  Everywhere is evidence of the craftsman and his tools.  Modern furniture makers (even reproduction furniture makers) seek to hide their (machine) tools’ marks.  Here they are on display for all to see.  Besides the accurate hardware and similarly shaped moldings, a good reproduction must exhibit all of the details found on period furniture.
I work entirely by hand using the tools and techniques of early craftsmen because the hand work, all of it, shows in the finished piece.  Precisely because it’s time consuming to perfectly flatten, straighten, and thickness lumber by hand, period craftsmen made use of imperfect stock.  Antique furniture lacks the crispness and uniformity of machine made reproductions.
Conclusion
When shopping for a fine reproduction, look for pleasing proportions, accurate details, and authentic construction.  
 
Its absolutely true that modern methods are faster and therefore should result in cheaper furniture.   It has been my experience that this is not always the case.  Some less scrupulous furniture makers with large workforces and even larger shops to support, are charging hand made prices for factory made furniture.  
 
My advice is to seek out individuals who use authentic methods and tools first.  You may be surprised that the premium for an authentic reproduction is insignificant.
 
Adam Cherubini
The similarity of the hardware is clearly evident in this picture, including the wires used to attach the drawer pull.  Less obvious but equally similar are the over cuts (appearing as thin lines), in the drawer back.  These indicate a centuries old dovetailing technique shared by both builders.