In an effort to determine the range of the age of a piece of furniture, we have the beginnings of a built-in time line if the piece has drawers. The concept of the modern chest of drawers as we know it, a case containing a series of more or less matching drawers, became a reality in the latter part of the 17th century. Of course single drawers and combinations of drawers were made earlier but appeared usually as an adjunct to the lift top or dower chest which was the most common chest type in the that century. The most common storage facility of the era was the cupboard or court cupboard consisting of open shelves below doors which concealed more shelves. A drawer is a fairly difficult thing to build when you get right down to it.
How to Determine the Age of Antique Furniture
As solid as dovetails, Knapp joint solidly dates antique furniture drawers | Antique Trader
PHONE: This is a big topic to tackle and it will not be possible to cover many details in this short column. To determine age, consider the form and function, tool marks, construction techniques, and materials used in the furniture. Note the style. Check for evidence of age. Is it a coffee table or king-size bed?
Check the drawers for the first sign of age on antique furniture
One of the first things to be looked at when trying to determine the age of a piece of older or antique furniture is the type of joinery used in the construction of the piece. Knowing the history of the technology of various periods goes a long way toward explaining clues about the age of furniture and none is more important or accessible than the type of joint used to secure a drawer. Mostly what we see are dovetails of a sort. The interlocking dovetail joint came into general use in the William and Mary period in the late s and very early s and for the first time allowed the construction of reliable drawers, a device with extremely limited use or convenience until then.
If you suspect your piece is pre, like these early s antiques, consult an expert — do not refinish. If you have a worn old dresser or rickety heirloom chair on your hands, you may be thinking of refinishing it yourself. Older mass-produced pieces whose origins fall somewhere between and are ideal candidates for refinishing. Here are some general guidelines to assessing the age and quality of your piece. But keep in mind that there are lots of exceptions to these rules, so err on the side of caution.