System for Dating Country & Primitive Furniture, Part1 The Business of Doing Business in Antiques – The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles – July 2002 Have you ever tried to pinpoint the construction date of a country cupboard?
The stylistic techniques used to date formal furniture such as Chippendale and Hepplewhite simply does not work for American country and primitive furniture.
The pit saw leaves marks on wood that look like this ///////////.
The pit saw is a two-man powered saw used in America before 1680 to cut logs into boards.
Therefore, most boards used in the construction of early cupboards show signs of being cut with an up-and-down saw.
The problem with using style to establish the construction date of country and primitive furniture is that regional styles remained unchanged for most of the 19th century.The rough sawed lumber used in furniture construction was smoothed with either a hand held plane, or a planing machine.The hand held plane was used in this country from the beginning until after 1900.Machine plane marks are of some use in dating cupboards made as early as 1860, but machine plane marks usually suggest a construction date of 1880 or later.The introduction of the modern looking butt hinge used to hold doors on cupboards dates to 1820. By 1840, cast iron hinges became thinner as manufacturers tried to squeeze more hinges out of each pound of iron.However, a perfected machine was not developed until 1860.