They never used a stamp or brand, and did not have an extensive line, but their pieces are quite distinct. See more discussion of these companies in A History of the Old Hickory Chair Company and the Indiana Hickory Furniture Movement by Ralph Kylloe, 1995 1. Under the plate, you should be able to see older legs dovetailed into the column. Mercer, contains photographs, drawings, and patent information on nails, hinges, screws, hardware, planing machines, etc. Although some of the Shelbyville furniture is based on early Old Hickory styles, the modern interpretations of the designs, the hickory poles used, the construction techniques, the weaving and upholstery, and the finish on the wood all make it immediately recognizable and we think undesirable! If the wood shows circular or arc-shaped marks, it was cut by a circular saw, not in use until about 1860. The sharp points were possible because the carving was generally done by hand with a chisel or other narrow cutting tool. The threads are cut evenly and they pitch at a different angle than those of the handmade screw.
Looking at the holes left by the missing nails can provide valuable information. From that time to the beginning of the 19th century, ca. The type of wood is the final clue. Color of the nail hole The condition of the wood surrounding nail heads and nail holes can provide additional clues about age. This can sometimes create confusion, for instance in the case of a woman who hoped to sell us a pair of country ladder-back chairs that she assumed were something that rustic furniture collectors would want because they were made out of hickory wood. A healthy skepticism is your best defense against a fake. Modern heads in particular are virtually always a nearly perfect circle.
English and American furniture styles Most antique wooden furniture you will encounter, will either be from traditional English periods or American Colonial styles. American hand wrought nails--those made entirely by hand or headed by hand--were done by metal workers specializing in nail-making as well as blacksmiths who made nails part time or to order. Newer tilt-top tables frequently have tops that are smaller than the base especially those tables made in Southeast Asia. Very early furniture, from the Middle Ages until the beginning of the eighteenth century, is mostly oak, but since the end of the seventeenth century, other woods as walnut and mahogany became the preferred choice among the cabinet makers. A legitimate antique is one hundred years old or older. The following drop-leaf table with casters is an example of a table made during that era.
The style of nails changed a dozen times, the hinge changed four times, the screw changed three times, and so did latches and pulls. Newer tables may or may not have a metal plate supporting the legs. If you are restoring a vintage butcher block unit, sand the block lightly and follow it with an application of. The circular saw although introduced in the mid 1850s could not be made big enough and powerful enough to cut lumber of the size used in furniture construction until 1880. But because of their smooth shape, modern nails have less holding power than hand-forged or cut nails. There are tremendous subtleties in styles between periods, but as a rule of thumb, tables from before 1700 are usually massive and include heavy carving. In general, any nail with molds seams or grinding marks should be considered of recent manufacture.
Rungs should have discoloration or be worn down where you would place your feet. In the early years they made Old Hickory designs out of willow, until realizing that it was a much more difficult wood to obtain than hickory. For thousands of years, the traditional hand-forged nail was square and tapered, with a hammered head attached by the blacksmith. Some larger tables were constructed of multiple pieces of wood solidly joined together. When an early wrought iron nail corrodes, or rusts, it leaves a black stain in the wood around the nail hole. When the Puzzle Pieces Don't Fit To determine if missing nails were antique or if they have been replaced with modern nails, look closely at the shape of the hole and the color of the wood around it.
Some collectors who are very knowledgeable about hickory furniture and prefer to acquire pieces by certain makers or from certain eras like to see them stamped. Nails as clues to age Most everyone knows that handmade nails are older than machine made nails. Victorian tables are much more like pre-1700 pieces, and 20th century pieces are more architectural in shape. Hand made screws and nails were relatively expensive and could rust and expand, sometimes cracking the wood they secured. Analyzing nails, nail holes and the type of nails used in various locations is just one step in gathering information upon which to base your decision of age and condition.
This system is remarkably accurate to within a ten-year period. Many dealers feel that the technological system is superior to the stylistic system. A little glue cements the connection, and a good dovetail joint has great strength and durability. Identifying Antique Furniture or Good Reproductions When trying to identify antique furniture, dedicated antique hunters search for beautifully preserved pieces, armed with pins, magnifying glasses, spirit levels and all sorts of testing equipment. In the early part of the period, nail-makers cut them by hand from a sheet of iron. This will help preserve it for a lifetime. If it is square, but not perfectly so, and worn thin, it could mean your piece was constructed before 1820.
To verify, and certify, when any piece was constructed, screws and nails need to be examined, hinges removed, bits of veneer scraped off. Does this necessarily mean that the item was made after 1846? Wood shrinks more across the grain than with the grain. However, in the early eighteenth century, the walnuts in central Europe were nearly extinguished by a frosty winter and its numbers were significantly reduced. Hand-wrought nails have tapered but irregular and crooked square shafts. Look at where your skin comes into contact with the handle and the area around it.
Re: article july 3 2002 regarding dating primitive furniture. These burrs should not be confused with grinding marks that appear in the middle of the shanks and heads. I will recommend this web site! The introduction of the modern looking butt hinge used to hold doors on cupboards dates to 1820. Modern circular saws spin fast and cut very little wood on each revolution. A related issue that people are often curious about is whether pieces of hickory furniture that are stamped by a maker are more valuable than those that are unmarked. Here are examples of the modern straight-sided manufactured wire nail: The simple nail serves as a key to furniture dating. After 1960 Old Hickory Furniture Company shifted to making generic furniture that was not in a rustic style and not made from hickory.