Recognizing Age and Construction in Antique Furniture

Collecting Guide Key periods of American furniture

Manufacturers have been stamping their wares for centuries. Dressing tables and high chests of drawers disappeared, while new forms such as the sideboard, tambour desk with desktop-based drawers and pigeonholes and worktable were introduced. Honing your wood identification skills can really pay off in this area. As discussed above, this is especially evident on the back or underside of pieces made prior to the mids.

Black walnut, oak, maple, and ash were common building materials of the time with rosewood inlays for contrast. Keep in mind, wood components can be replaced and this may affect your ability to determine the exact age of a piece. As the dovetail joint evolved through the last one hundred thirty years, it becomes a clue for the age and authenticity of antique furniture. Once lacquer hits the century mark it tends to turn quite dark.

As time went on, furniture began to evolve from merely utilitarian to stylish. Examining these elements individually, as well as furniture pieces in their entirety, will help you learn to correctly date them. Hand cut dovetails were used to hold the sides of drawers together, but also to join the structural members of case furniture. Hardware was typically brass in a variety of shapes found in nature. 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.

Tips for Dating Old Pieces Made in America

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. But, it is important to determine which type of wood is most prevalent in your antique to help determine the age. Porcelain, best bronze and mother-of-pearl plaques were popular embellishments. The expansion of urban centres during the period led to the appearance of strong regional traits.

These routers were ancestors of the electric precision tools of today, and could be used to rapidly cut a machined dovetail joint. Sheep Collection purchases are excluded. Determining the age of antiques is half the fun! The slow and laborious crafting and carving, one piece at a time, by a master woodworker was not suited to the new mass market. Ornamental carvings, finials, raised panels and woodturnings were hallmarks of this period.

Determine the Age of Antique Furniture

Combining this dating process with several other techniques will help you make an accurate age determination. This over-view of the dovetailing techniques should easily help identification and dating of most furniture from the last years. The type of dovetailed joint, especially in drawers, reveals much about furniture construction and dating. The Early American period was really the first period where a distinct style began to appear within furniture pieces in the colonies that went beyond mere practicality. The next technological development in joinery was again American.

Light woods were favoured in reaction to the prevailing dark woods of the Empire and Rococo Revival styles. From the s up until the Eastlake period in the s, brass hardware fell out of favor in furniture manufacture and was sparsely used. Showroom - Frequently Asked Questions. If you have a piece with brasses, it's most likely pres or a revival piece from the late s on.

Recognizing Age and Construction in Antique Furniture

Dovetails have long been a popular method for attaching two pieces of wood at a degree angle often seen in drawer construction. Here is an oak cylinder roll desk from about with keyhole dovetailed drawers. If you find these hand finished screws in furniture, investigate other aspects of the pieces to see if they match the screws in age.

Feet and chair spindles were also carved individually, so there is no way each one could possibly look identical. If your piece is seeing this darkening effect, you're safe to assume that the piece is at least years old. The presence of brass hardware at all also tells a tale. Some popular antiques are quite well documented and may be tied to a specific time period in history making an age determination quite simple. Dovetail joints often hold two boards together in a box or drawer, 100 free online almost like interlocking the fingertips of your hands.

Dating american furniture

Victorian furniture is formal, elaborate and opulent. Supporting columns on the corners of dressers and glass in place of raised panels were also hallmarks of this period. The pieces were simple and utilitarian, with the predominant decoration colorful hand-painted scenes. Machine made furniture produced largely after will have components that match more perfectly than those made by hand.

  • Determining the age of antique furniture is the first step in establishing a proper valuation, as well as verifying that the piece is indeed an authentic furnishing from the era in question.
  • Flagler and the Grant White House.
  • This parlour suite epitomizes their eclectic combination of motifs and exotic materials.

Screws made from about through the mids were partially machine made giving the threading a more even appearance, according to Taylor. Dovetail joints were a hallmark of this period. 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. That is what makes this field so exciting for newcomers and veterans alike. As you examine the piece, sleuth for clues that support your initial theory that you have a piece of authentic period furniture.

The dovetail joint began to make an appearance along with the mortise and tenon joint as a carryover from the Early American period. 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. This period introduced furniture built from a number of mass-produced materials such as molded plywood, metals and plastics.

How to Determine the Age of Antique Furniture

This is one of the easiest ways to provide a fairly accurate date stamp to any antique. The backs of this type of hardware were often left with the impression of the sand while the surfaces were polished. Instead, this period relied heavily on Asian and African influences. 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.

If you think that you have something really valuable on hand, or you just want to make sure that you have the best estimate as to the age of an antique hire an expert! Silk, wool, and cotton have been spun and woven into a variety of damasks, satins, and brocades with many different patterns. There was resistance - in England, carpenters unions went on strike over the use of electric saws, dating fearing the end of their livelihoods.

Hand made screws and nails were relatively expensive and could rust and expand, sometimes cracking the wood they secured. The Shaker period was named after a religious movement of the period, and the furniture influence was simple and utilitarian. Glues of the period sometimes weakened.

But, many of the original wood components may have been refinished leaving original paint deep in the wood's pores. 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. The first screws were crafted in the s by blacksmiths using square nail stock that was heated and pounded until it was somewhat round. Some classics are still being made today.

Recognizing Age and Construction in Antique Furniture

  1. The Modern and Post-Modern periods were a stark departure from the English and French influence and the periods of the past centuries.
  2. How to Determine the Age of Antique Furniture.
  3. Pottier and Stymus active specialized in a variety of revival forms.
  4. The Colonial period was heavily influenced by pieces from England during this time, although the American versions tended to be far less ornamental and more conservative.
  5. Several good books covering early American furniture history are available online or at local bookstores.

Collecting Guide Key periods of American furniture

This period relied on intricate inlays and veneers along with shapely turnings to decorate what were primarily straight lines. These are an often overlooked method of determining the age of an antique the builder is telling you when it was constructed! 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. Works from the period were typically greater in size, with makers favouring undecorated, veneered surfaces, which drew inspiration from furniture of the French Restoration period. The firm provided furniture and interiors for such prestigious clients as William Rockefeller, Leland Stanford, Henry M.

Dating american furniture

This is one of the quickest and most definitive ways to accurately determine the age of an antique piece of furniture. In these urban centres, the rise of the upper class had led to the emergence of sophisticated cabinetmaking workshops, employing highly skilled carvers, often trained in England. The country grew from a small, cougar free mostly agrarian society to an international industrial powerhouse.

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Dating american furniture

How to Date Antique Furniture

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