Have you ever tried to pinpoint the construction date of a country cupboard? The stylistic techniques used to date formal furniture such as Chippendale and Hepplewhite simply does not work for American country and primitive furniture. Country furniture does have its styles based predominately on religion and region. The catholic French and the Irish built cupboards with bold moldings, cut out feet, raised panels and they painted their cupboards in bright colors. The puritan New England cabinetmakers built simple unadorned cupboards painted in drab colors. The Shakers are well known for their simple but elegant furniture. Furniture built in the Midwest and the South is different from New England made pieces.
If you take all these factors into consideration, you may be able to figure out on your own if have an antique or a machine-made reproduction.
When you are trying to determine the age of piece you cannot just look at furniture style. Popular styles have been prolifically reproduced over the years and some of these classic styles are still being made today.
Antique Furniture Hardware
The overall style-such as ChippendaleWilliam and MaryQueen Anneor rococo revival -can serve as a potential clue, although, not a definitive one. Once you determine a particular style, look for the signs of aging that would verify if you have an antique or not.
One of the most overlooked and least understood clues in establishing the date and authenticity of older and antique furniture is the story that screws can tell about the history of a piece. Screws are relative newcomers to the production of furniture primarily because they are so hard to make by hand. But as the complexity and sophistication. Dovetails - A Clue for Dating Antiques. Dovetail joints often hold two boards together in a box or drawer, almost like interlocking the fingertips of your hands. As the dovetail joint evolved through the last one hundred thirty years, it becomes a clue for the age and authenticity of antique furniture. The Spruce / Elise Degarmo If you are trying to determine the age of a piece of American antique furniture, it will require investigative work. Look closely at the the different elements that make the piece of furniture. Examine the level of work that went into the furniture from the joinery.
Take a look at the joinery the spots in furniture where the pieces come together. Look at the bottom or back of a piece or inside its doors and drawers.
This can provide important clues about whether a piece of old furniture was machine cut or crafted by hand.
Most handmade pieces will have some irregularities on the surface like minor nicks that were made by a hand plane being used to smooth out the wood. These nicks are sometimes even more evident on the back than on the finished, front surface.
Clues to Dating Antiques #3
If the work looks too even or perfect, it was likely machine-made or machine-cut. Most machine-made pieces date to after the Industrial Revolution after Small matching elements on furniture, such as wooden drawer knobs, chair spindles, or feet on a variety of objects, may have slight differences in the shape.
This can mean that they were handcrafted prior to Machine-made furniture will have components that match more perfectly than those made by hand.
When hand planes were used to smooth woods, they usually left some sort of uneven surface. This is especially evident on the back or underside of pieces made prior to the mids.
Hand chisels and wood-shaping tools operated with elbow grease left cuts and nicks in the wood. In comparison, manually operated hand saws left a straighter pattern. A handcrafted furniture piece does not set it in time as an antique.
Furniture is still being crafted by hand today. However, machine-made evidence does give you a better picture of when the piece of furniture could not be from. It can be difficult distinguishing the type of wood or finish used on a furniture piece, but these are important clues.
Until then, following these steps will help you determine an approximate age of nearly any piece of antique furniture: STEP ONE: Examine the inside, back, and bottom surfaces of the furniture: These less obvious areas of the antique will provide clues as to whether the wooden components were cut using traditional methods like handsaws and planes, or whether the pieces were crafted using modern . Olde Good Things is proud to offer a selection of antique cabinets and furniture for your home or restoration project. Our vintage cabinet and furniture range add style and reliability to your home or commercial restoration project. Our current inventory includes finishes in rust, black, antique bronze, polished bronze, polished brass. Vintage Hardware & Lighting W Sims Way Port Townsend, WA Vintage Hardware, Vintage Lighting, and Vintage Hardware and Lighting are Registered Trademarks.
Certain types of woods were favored during different furniture periods. For example, oak was primarily used in furniture made prior to Aftermahogany and walnut were very popular. This country pine cupboard from the 's has big country dovetails:. These were cut with a jig or pattern, and an apprentice could create a very well fitting and attractive joint.
Popular here into the 's, these joints never gained acceptance outside of the U. European cabinetmakers continued their hand-cut dovetails well into the 's. Here is an example of an Eastlake chest of drawers with characteristic "spoon" carving and "pin and cove" dovetails from the 's:. The next technological development in joinery was again American. In the 's, American furniture began to be mass produced, with interchangeable parts and speedy production for the growing and affluent middle class.
Dating antique furniture by hardware
The slow and laborious crafting and carving, one piece at a time, by a master woodworker was not suited to the new mass market. Steam power, transferred by pulleys and leather belts, operated saws, carving machines and routers that could copy an original pattern exactly.
These routers were ancestors of the electric precision tools of today, and could be used to rapidly cut a machined dovetail joint. A close inspection shows no irregular saw cuts or variation from a skilled craftsman, but rather a precise and identical manufactured machined joint.
These machine-cut dovetails are as strong and long lasting as the hand-made joints, and became the standard of better American furniture ever since the late 's.
Jul 03, The Dating of Old Houses, a paper prepared by Dr. Henry C. Mercer, contains photographs, drawings, and patent information on nails, hinges, screws, hardware, planing machines, etc. Call the Mercier Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania during business hours for information on reprints by The Bucks County Historical Society. Located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Bob Roth's Antique Hardware has a large inventory of antique hardware for furniture, doors, windows and cabinets. Robinson's Antiques carries original antique hardware dating from to Mowery Antiques specializes in restored antique hardware for furniture and archotelzeeland.com: Terry Hurley. Jan 05, The video above provides a great introduction to dating antique furniture and what areas should be examined. Take note of the shape of the screws used to hold the furniture Author: Timothy Dahl.
Here is an early example of machine-cut dovetails on a 's sideboard from a dining set:. Other drawer joints include sliding keyhole or French dovetails that were have been used since the 's.
Tips for Dating Old Pieces Made in America
Here is an oak cylinder roll desk from about with keyhole dovetailed drawers. European cabinetmakers continued to produce hand-cut dovetails through the 's.
Electric power tools, like routers and various types of saws were put into widespread use after World War II in the 's. There was resistance - in England, carpenters unions went on strike over the use of electric saws, fearing the end of their livelihoods.
Nevertheless, by the 's, power tools were used in almost all furniture construction across Great Britain.