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. Seldom does one clue provide confirmation of anything.
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Please update your billing information in My WorthPoint to reactivate your account! No comments This hand-made screw has obvious signs of its origin. Note the flat spot on the shaft near the head.
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A bit of research about the origins of the item can help you date it easily. Read on to learn how to date antique furniture. Speak to family members about the provenance, or history, of your antique furniture if you have inherited it.
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Dovetails – A Clue for Dating Antiques by Ken Melchert 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 type of dovetailed joint, especially in drawers, reveals much about furniture construction and dating. With just a little study of these examples, it is easy to spot true hand made construction vs. The earliest examples are from furniture placed with mummies in Egypt thousands of years ago, and also in the burials of ancient Chinese emperors. For thousands of years, a dovetail joint was created by a skilled cabinetmaker using small, precision saws and wood chisels.
Tiny angled saw cuts were followed by careful cutting by a sharpened chisel on both sides to avoid splintering. When the joint is expertly executed, it is a thing of beauty, and a secure joining of two boards that can last for centuries.
Vintage G-Plan cabinet furniture ranges (1953 to 1969)
You’ll also be signed up to receive e-newsletters from Antique Trader and partners. Fred Taylor October 18, 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.
– Cut nails, almost no screws. • Machine Era Furniture – – Use of screws, early blunt head later pointed – Stamped steel & brass hardware – Stains oil stain or no stain – Hand or Spray Finish shifting to varnish later lacquer – Thicker oil based paints.
Furniture Handle Styles More than just a functional device, drawer and cupboard handles or knobs can provide both a decorative fillip to a piece of furniture and useful clues in dating it. The earliest forms of furniture didn’t really need handles and it wasn’t until drawers came into general use in the 17th century that handles became a decorative element in a piece of furniture. The metal mounts on imported Chinese furniture were an inspiration, and ca ly handles were usually made of cast brass.
Much about the date of a handle can be learned from the material itself, as well as the way it’s shaped. Brass made before often had an unattractive, pitted look. From that date, lead was added to the mix of copper and calamine to produce a metal with a softer feel. It’s less shiny, and more yellow than brass made after around In that year, James Emerson patented an alloy of copper and pure zinc, which, because of its closer resemblance to gold and the lack of pitting, soon became the standard form of brass.
The first metal handles, though, used in the early and mid th century, tended to be made of iron and were shaped like inverted hearts. These were still being used on country furniture in the 18th century, but on better pieces were supplanted by drops, usually teardrop-shaped lumps of solid brass that were hinged to a backplate at their narrow end.
How to Determine the Age of Antique Furniture
Originally called Streamline Maple, these early pieces were labeled with one of several styles of paper tag. The tags were generally affixed to the back or underside in the case of tables of the furniture. This has left a lot of the most classic, coveted vintage Heywood-Wakefield pieces without a label for easy identification.
Screws were occasionally used in furniture pre-dating the beginning of the machine era (Circa ). Blacksmith forged examples can be identified by inspecting for thin .
Etymology[ edit ] The word “carpenter” is the English rendering of the Old French word carpentier later, charpentier which is derived from the Latin carpentrius [artifex], ” maker of a carriage. An easy way to envisage this is that first fix work is all that is done before plastering takes place. Second fix is done after plastering takes place. Second fix work, the construction of items such as skirting boards, architraves, and doors also comes under carpentry.
Carpentry is also used to construct the formwork into which concrete is poured during the building of structures such as roads and highway overpasses. In the UK, the skill of making timber formwork for poured, or in situ, concrete, is referred to as shuttering. Use of terms in the United States[ edit ] Carpentry in the United States is historically defined similarly to the United Kingdom as the “heavier and stronger”  work distinguished from a joiner ” The terms housewright and barnwright were used historically, now occasionally used by carpenters who work using traditional methods and materials.
Someone who builds custom concrete formwork is a form carpenter. History[ edit ] Log church building in Russia reached spectacular heights such as this example from the 17th century Wood is one of mankind’s oldest building materials. The ability to shape wood improved with technological advances from the stone age to the bronze age to the iron age. Some of the oldest archaeological evidence of carpentry are water well casings built using split oak timbers with mortise and tenon and notched corners excavated in eastern Germany dating from about 7, years ago in the early neolithic period.
The oldest surviving complete architectural text is Vitruvius ‘ ten books collectively titled De architectura , which discuss some carpentry.
Clues for Identifying Vintage Heywood-Wakefield Furniture
On the end wall of that space this vintage breakfront secretary with bubble glass now sits. It fits so well, it looks like it was made for the space. At first glance, one might think this is a true antique piece of furniture, antique being at least years old.
One of the easiest improvements you can make to a dresser, desk, or cabinet that you’ve picked up at your local flea market is to outfit it with a vintage set of drawer pulls or handles. Drawers pulls from numerous eras are widely available, in brass, bronze, Bakelite, and glass.
Now how on earth did I come to that conclusion? Period catalogs also list a ppi count of 14 for the 4. Fortunately, we have some other clues that can help us zero in on a date. From this, I conclude that this medallion was manufactured between: That narrows it down to a razor-thin two-and-a-half decades. Maybe the stamping can help us shave off a few years from that range.