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Authenticating Furniture
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Furniture Buyer’s Kit

The furniture buyer’s kit should contain a tape measure or ruler, magnifying glass, magnet, and a flashlight. Also helpful are a corsage pin and a knife. An antiques dealer will usually let you examine the furniture, remove drawers, and even unscrew screws if the piece is expensive. Use the tape measure to check the diameter […]

Dating Furniture from Family History

If you know your chair was owned by your great-grandmother, there is a fairly accurate way of dating the chair. There is about a 25-year span for each generation. Take your age plus 25 years for your mother’s generation plus 25 years for your grandmother’s generation. If you are 55, the chair is at least […]


The screw is not a recent invention, and screws could appear on an antique of any age. The wood screw was made by hand in the United States and was used by many furniture makers by the early eighteenth century. Because of the design of the screw, it was able to hold and keep hinges […]


There is a legend in the world of the antiques novice that a square-headed nail indicates an early piece of furniture. This is only partly true, for square-headed nails are still being made and sold. There are even shops that straighten salvaged square-headed nails to sell to customers who are building authentic reproductions or restoring […]


Carefully examine the difference between the butt hinge made about 1815 to 1840 and the type made after 1840. More metal was used in the early type. One problem is that mid-Victorian Canadian hardware was sometimes made like early pieces in the United States. 1815-1840 1840    

Hardware Style Examples

William and Mary drop pull 1690-1720 Queen Anne bail pull with pierced backplate 1720-1750 Chippendale bail pull with solid backplate 1750-1780 Empire ring pull 1815-1840 Double swan-neck bail pull 1720-1770 Chippendale bail pull with pierced backplate 1750-1780 Hepplewhite bail pull with oval backplate 1785-1800 Victorian bail handle with pierced backplate 1840-1900

Handles and Hardware Styles

It was for the Centennial Exposition of 1876, or so the story goes, that hardware was first designed to reflect the decor of a building. By 1900 catalogs offered hardware in Greek, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Louis XIV, Rococo, Colonial, Art Nouveau, and other styles. Hardware could be purchased in iron, tin, copper, brass, bronze, silver, […]


There is a rule about dovetailing: the fewer the number of tenons, the older the piece. An early eighteenth-century drawer was joined with one huge dovetail or was pegged together. By 1800 several small dovetails (ranging from three to five) were used on a drawer. Each one was cut out by hand, and the spacing […]

Altered Furniture

In mid-Victorian times, some Queen Anne or early Chippendale furniture was carved and redecorated to make it appear to be the work of a more sophisticated and modern craftsman. The knee of a chair leg or the top of a round-topped table was often recarved to add more interest. Victorians wanted more pattern, and the […]


A popular television show of the 1960s featured an eccentric witch. She collected doorknobs, and would take the hardware from a door and leave the home with a problem door. It was considered a joke. However, there are many serious doorknob collectors. They want the brass, bronze, pottery, and glass hardware that was popular during […]

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