But there are a number of other factors to consider as well, including the tools that were used to craft a piece and what the individual components look like. Sheep Collection purchases are excluded. Showroom - Frequently Asked Questions.
Some popular antiques are quite well documented and may be tied to a specific time period in history making an age determination quite simple. Other brass hardware can be an indicator of age as well. This is one of the easiest ways to provide a fairly accurate date stamp to any antique. It is basically a more squat version of a ball foot, flattened slightly on top and wider at the bottom. This lavishly hand-carved cabinet from about shows structural dovetail joints on the back side.
The first screws were crafted in the s by blacksmiths using square nail stock that was heated and pounded until it was somewhat round. There was resistance - in England, carpenters unions went on strike over the use of electric saws, fearing the end of their livelihoods. This is a furniture foot style in which a simple, flattened oval-shaped block of wood rests on a disk or pad. The next technological development in joinery was again American.
Look for authentically worn or distressed stamps or manufacturer burn marks. Machine made furniture produced largely after will have components that match more perfectly than those made by hand. Determining the age of antiques is half the fun!
Some classics are still being made today. While it is possible that an owner replaced the knobs on an antique with more modern units, you'll most likely be able to tell. They are sometimes referred to as a Dutch foot or spoon foot. Silk, wool, and cotton have been spun and woven into a variety of damasks, satins, and brocades with many different patterns.
The use of hand tools and hand-cut dovetails is now the province of hobbyists and a few small shops creating authentic replicas of antique furniture. While you may not have an example as extreme as that sitting in your garage, you never know what you may unearth as you determine the age and value of your antique. An analysis of these pores with a Jeweler's loop can help you determine if the wood was painted, and if so do all of the individual components of the antique furniture match in age?
Dovetails - A Clue for Dating Antiques - The Harp Gallery
Antique and Vintage Dressers
If your piece is seeing this darkening effect, you're safe to assume that the piece is at least years old. This furniture foot style consists of a tapered cylinder that is separated from the leg by a turned ring. It is sometimes referenced as a scrolled bracket foot. Manually operated hand saws left a straighter pattern in comparison. The monopodium foot also appears on sofas, chairs and case pieces.
Oak is highly popular in furniture that dates from to earlier years. Looking at the bottom or back of a piece, or inside its doors and drawers, can provide important clues about whether or not a piece of old furniture was machine cut or crafted by hand. It was especially popular, with regional variations, in Irish and Philadelphia furniture. From the s up until the Eastlake period in the s, brass hardware fell out of favor in furniture manufacture and was sparsely used. Glues of the period sometimes weakened.
Tiny angled saw cuts were followed by careful cutting by a sharpened chisel on both sides to avoid splintering. Here is an oak cylinder roll desk from about with keyhole dovetailed drawers. The tips were blunt in these oldest screws, write about yourself dating and each one was unique. Usually has a mitered corner embellishment.
The type of dovetailed joint, especially in drawers, reveals much about furniture construction and dating. Combining this dating process with several other techniques will help you make an accurate age determination. Steam power, transferred by pulleys and leather belts, operated saws, carving machines and routers that could copy an original pattern exactly. This can mean that they were handcrafted prior to or so. It is usually found on heavy case pieces, especially of Germanic or Dutch origin.
Tips for Dating Old Pieces Made in America
- Fabric that is original on your antique can provide serious clues of its age.
- This over-view of the dovetailing techniques should easily help identification and dating of most furniture from the last years.
- The ball foot is one of the earliest, most basic types of furniture foot styles.
Sometimes it is referenced as a console leg. Cuts and nicks can also leave proof that hand chisels and other tools operated with sheer elbow grease were used to shape woods. Once lacquer hits the century mark it tends to turn quite dark.
Be First to Discover
- This is a type of carved furniture foot in the shape of a fish head.
- These were cut with a jig or pattern, and an apprentice could create a very well fitting and attractive joint.
- It has been widely used since then.
- Author Ken Melchert has taught Art History for many years.
Antique and Vintage Dressers
This is a simple, basic furniture foot style with a square or cube-like shape. Dovetail joints often hold two boards together in a box or drawer, almost like interlocking the fingertips of your hands. Lacquer has been applied to wood furniture for centuries, and if the piece you're inspecting claims to have the original finish, you may be able to date the piece quite easily. Can you circa date solely on the type of wood used?
Looking at the joinery, or the way a piece of antique furniture is put together, will provide many clues that help in determining the age. That said, it is important to realize that skilled craftsmen are building furniture by hand even today so you'll want to continue to investigate the age of the piece using at least one other method. Moving into the s, maple and cherry showed up in fine furniture manufacture quite often. There is some detective work to be done if you want to really ensure that the antique is real, and a qualified inspector should be hired if you're spending any appreciable sum of money. When hand planes were used to smooth woods, they more often than not left some sort of uneven surface.
Several good books covering early American furniture history are available online or at local bookstores. Keep in mind, wood components can be replaced and this may affect your ability to determine the exact age of a piece. Manufacturers have been stamping their wares for centuries. As you examine the piece, type dating sleuth for clues that support your initial theory that you have a piece of authentic period furniture.
Hand cut dovetails were used to hold the sides of drawers together, but also to join the structural members of case furniture. This is a type of turned foot, consisting of a rounded saucer-shaped top with larger turning in the middle that then narrows to a smaller turned end. That is what makes this field so exciting for newcomers and veterans alike.
This secretary desk from about was built by a good country carpenter, notice the dovetails on the side of the drawer, and holding the top and side planks together as well. The earliest examples are from furniture placed with mummies in Egypt thousands of years ago, and also in the burials of ancient Chinese emperors. Hand made screws and nails were relatively expensive and could rust and expand, sometimes cracking the wood they secured. Chairs with exaggerated proportions, winged splats, shell motifs, and trifid feet were all characteristic of the sophisticated furniture made in colonial Philadelphia.
And, realize that those masterpieces are actually few and far between. Examples featuring a metal claw gripping a glass ball are also common, especially in occasional tables and stools. Simpler country furniture often had larger dovetails, or even a single tail and pin. If you have a piece with brasses, it's most likely pres or a revival piece from the late s on. But, dating it is important to determine which type of wood is most prevalent in your antique to help determine the age.
Short and squat examples usually decorate heavy case pieces while more slender examples can be used on chairs as shown. More than likely, you will discover that you own a later revival piece although it's awfully fun to dream big when you begin your research. One of the most basic furniture foot examples, this style named for its actual resemblance to a bracket.