Dating wood furniture
Edwards and Wells have sorted the many types of nails into twelve easy to understand groupings. These nails are the ones that antique dealers call Rose Head nails.
The reason for dividing handmade nails into two groupings is that two different forming methods were used.
Consequently, from 1790 to 1848 the grain of a machine cut nail runs across rather than with the length of the shaft.Nails with opposite side burrs were made from 1790 to 1835.Besides cutting marks, the nail shaft will also exhibit clamp marks near the head where it was held tightly so that the head could be formed by a heading machine.Groups 11 and 12 are a detailed examination of the modern wire nail that came into use in 1880 and by 1900 had displaced the cut square nail.
Of the seven remaining groupings, nails in groups three, four, five, six, and eight are the most common nail used to fasten together American country and American primitive furniture. There are many easy-to-see differences in each of these five styles.Antique dealers who learn to recognize these five styles of nails can date country and primitive furniture to within a twenty-year period and by combining nail technology with those of hinges, screws, latches, saw marks, and plane marks can pinpoint the actual construction date to within ten years.Machinery leaves telltale marks on the piece it makes.Forged nails are hand shaped one at a time by a blacksmith.