By Bob Flexner Pages A while back, my wife and I were visiting friends who wanted to show us their collection of antique furniture. At one point we went into their bedroom and I headed directly for a very old-looking chest-of-drawers. I just wanted to date the piece by how the drawer was made. Construction Drawer construction has changed several times in the last years. Simply pull a drawer out a few inches, glance at the joinery on the side and feel the drawer bottom underneath — essentially a single motion. In addition, the wood used for the drawer sides and bottoms helps determine whether the furniture is American or European. How a drawer is constructed and the woods used is revealing, but there are two important caveats. First, dating furniture is a fine art.
How to Identify Antique Wooden Furniture
He believed that furniture should be lighter, simpler and more attractive. Eastlake was an Englishman who published a book in to promote his ideas, and it had the elaborate name of “Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details”. The book promoted his idea of simpler furniture and a return to craftsmanship. In his opinion, even if furniture was made by machine, the pieces should reflect a caring for quality by the machine workers.
The simple nail serves as a key to furniture dating. Until about , nails were hand-forged – tapered square shafts and hand-hammered heads. During the ‘s, cut nails have tapered rectangular shafts and rectangular heads.
However, learning a few basic tips and tricks used by experienced antique collectors and dealers will give even a novice collector the general knowledge needed to identify a piece of antique furniture. Tips for Identifying Antique Furniture There are several things to look for when examining a piece of furniture that help to identify it as an antique. Check for a signature or label from the furniture maker.
Make sure the piece is in proportion. For example, if the legs of the piece seem to be the wrong size or the top of the piece is out of balance with the lower portion, it is possible the furniture is a marriage. A furniture marriage occurs when two pieces, or sections, of furniture are joined together and the two are not originally from the same piece. Check the construction of the joints.
Until the late s handmade dowels or pegs held the mortise-and-tenon joints together and were slightly raised above the joints In the s glue was used on dovetailed joints. These types of joints became more refined throughout the s and the first half of the s. In the s the machine made Knapp joint was developed and is commonly called a half moon, pin and scallop and scallop and dowel In the late s a machine-made dovetail joint was perfected completely replacing the Knapp joint by
How to Identify the Age of Furniture by the Nails
The family circle gathered together in this room two or three times a day, therefore, great importance was placed on its decoration. This room typically consumed about one-fourth of the entire first floor plan. Antique dining room furniture, to be in the fashion of the late s, must be massive and made in imitation of old English, Dutch or Colonial models. Antique dining room furniture of Dutch designs are especially popular, and frequently those who are fortunate enough to possess some of the quaint chests or dressers of the seventeenth century have them transformed into sideboards, settles or seats for bay windows.
At one time the chests could be purchased quite reasonably from Holland immigrants who brought them over packed with their various household treasures. Hence it has been to the interest of the cabinet maker to devote his attention to reproducing the curious and in many cases artistic carving on sideboards, buffets, chairs and tables.
Dealers who specialize in country and primitive furniture have depended on the above methods (plus the study of nails) for dating their antiques. Many dealers feel that the technological system is superior to the stylistic system.
From new Arts and Crafts oak made in America, to the flood of Indonesian mahogany in 19th century styles, many of these new pieces are virtually indistinguishable in shape from the originals. Add new hardware cast from vintage originals and you have the potential for confusion. One of the clues furniture experts look for to authenticate age of furniture is the presence of appropriate “shadows.
Shadow in this sense does not necessarily mean dark or black, but refers to a relative difference. In many cases, a furniture shadow is lighter, not darker, than a surrounding surface but is still referred to as a shadow. Wood covered by a drawer pull, for example, would not be exposed to the wood smoke, grime and abrasion as the surrounding wood not covered by the pull.
If the original hardware has been on the furniture for years and the piece has not been refinished, the protected surface under the hardware should logically look different than surrounding unprotected surfaces. Similarly, areas subject to normal movement over many years also show shadows caused by continuous wear. Drawers are one of the best places to check for shadows because they include both hardware pulls and movement sliding in and out.
Whether inspecting an entire chest of drawers or a single drawer in a desk, drawers can often tip you off as to whether the entire piece is right or wrong. The material of which draw hardware is made — metal, wood, glass, ceramic — has little effect on the creation of the shadow.
Frequently Asked Questions
In as much as he applied popular Rocco, Chinoiserie and Gothic design motifs to already fashionable shapes for both grand and simple household furniture. Few designs were copied exactly. Chair makers at all levels – London, provincial and country adapted and modified their designs to suit their own skills, and their customers tastes and pockets.
Country versions are instantly identifiable when made in woods other than Mahogany. Often less well proportioned, much simpler in design with splats with little or no carving. The methods employed by London makers of the mid thC.
Determining the age of antiques is half the fun! Learn 10 specific steps to establishing an accurate age for your antique furniture. A single piece of antique furniture is more than a collection of nails.
For What It’s Worth How can you tell the age of a piece of furniture? This is a big topic to tackle and it will not be possible to cover many details in this short column. I’ve included a brief list of references, if you want to begin studying on your own. To determine age, consider the form and function, tool marks, construction techniques, and materials used in the furniture. Check for evidence of age. One thing to determine is the utility of the furniture you’re trying to date.
Is it a coffee table or king-size bed? They weren’t around before the 20th Century. They appeared in the s.
How to tell if it’s an antique?
Our trunks are carefully restored and refinished with only high quality materials and finishes. All handles are replaced with original style, heavy, dyed leather handles most are multi-layered stitched. All brass is carefully cleaned and coated with clear lacquer to prevent tarnish. Other metal is cleaned and repainted or coated to prevent rust.
Nails as clues to ageBy Mark Chervenka. How nails work. Nails, modern or antique, are able to be used as fasteners because of the cellular structure of wood on the microscopic level. In these positions you should expect to find small T-head finishing nails driven flush with the surface on early furniture.
How to tell the age of antique furniture Shelly McRae Updated February 21, Determining the age of antique furniture is not an exact science, but there are certain indicators of age evident in furniture. How a piece is constructed is a common measure of age. You should look at the screws, nails, wood, joining and hardware. The condition and quality of materials are used to gauge the age of a piece. The wear and tear of a piece of furniture also helps to tell its age.
A legitimate antique is one hundred years old or older. It should have a bit of scarring to show for its time.
Antique Furniture Hardware
History does not record who it was, but the incredible results of that inspirational moment are all around us – in the houses we live in, the bridges we cross, the furniture we sit on. Nails have been around for a long time. As soon as man discovered that heating iron ore could form metal, the ideas for shaping it quickly followed. Any sizeable Roman fortress would have its ‘fabrica’ or workshop where the blacksmiths would fashion the metal items needed by the army.
Furniture predating will include “rose-head nails,” that were hand-forged by blacksmiths. These nails can be identified by their irregular, rose-shaped heads. “Square-head nails,” employed from to , were machine cut and finished off by a blacksmith who squared the heads.
Or aim a flashlight as if it was a Star Wars blaster? It can be fun, even productive, to break out of our everyday routine and assume other roles. Golfing we become Tiger Woods. Faced with a situation that calls for a cool head we can turn ourselves into James Bond or Grace Kelly. On your next antique expedition, you might try assuming the role of Sherlock Holmes. Additionally, Holmes was a student of trivial facts pertinent to his work.
Here’s a few furniture tips that may prove useful to you. You can often date a piece by studying nails and screws. Furniture predating will include “rose-head nails,” that were hand-forged by blacksmiths. These nails can be identified by their irregular, rose-shaped heads. From to cabinetmakers used headless “machine-cut nails, that are tapered and rectilinear in shape.
Drawers Date Furniture
Skip to content The antique chest of drawers has changed dramatically over the centuries due to better tools, better cabinet makers and wealthier people leading to larger demand. The earliest form of antique chest was a box with lid, known as the coffer. The antique coffer is the earliest type of furniture on record, seen as far back as the 13th century. It was made of six planks of wood joined by primitive old clout nails, called the six plank coffer. The coffer was designed to be portable, so some have handles on the sides and banded with iron for strength around the corners.
These date back at the date back at antique furniture dating antique nail drove past the drawers. Take a piece of the age of everything is also date stamps. The age and wood on the hillman group. Antique, and square cut nails, are able to determine the age of a broom? Append a key to be used as fasteners because of the old furniture is not an.
Egypt Beds, stools, throne chairs, and boxes were the chief forms of furniture in ancient Egypt. Although only a few important examples of actual furniture survive, stone carvings, fresco paintings, and models made as funerary offerings present rich documentary evidence. The bed may have been the earliest form; it was constructed of wood and consisted of a simple framework supported on four legs.
A flax cord, plaited, was lashed to the sides of the framework. The cords were woven together from opposite sides of the framework to form a springy surface for the sleeper. In the 18th dynasty c. The great beds found in the tomb of Tutankhamen were put together with bronze hooks and staples so that they could be dismantled or folded to facilitate storage and transportation; furniture existed in small quantities and when the pharaohs toured their lands, they took their beds with them.
In the same tomb was a folding wooden bed with bronze hinges. Instead of pillows, wooden or ivory headrests were used. These were so essentially individual, being made to the measure of the owner, that they were often placed in tombs to be used by the dead man on his arrival in the land of eternity. Folding headrests were probably for the use of travellers.
Early stools for ceremonial purposes were merely squared blocks of stone.