Dating antique secretary desk

In a genuine piece,, close scrutiny will disclose that these pins are many-sided instead of round.A perfectly round pin indicates the use of a machine-made dowel, which postdates antique furniture.

Such joints are rather crude in very early pieces, individual dovetails being sometimes two inches wide.

In most American furniture of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, dovetails are about an inch wide and are uniform.

Dovetails were also used in other pieces of furniture at points where a strong and tight joint was needed for a leg, apron or other part.

In some pieces, especially tables and chairs, pinned mortise and tenon -joints were widely used.

In genuine antique furniture, marks of the tools used by the old craftsmen can easily be seen on all but the finished surfaces.

These were carefully smoothed by fine planes and sandpapered before varnishing, but backboards and other concealed parts were left in such rough condition that the slight ridges and hollows made by the wide-bladed jack plane can be seen or felt.Assuming, then, that the piece passes the test of good design, do the lines of the parts jibe?For instance, are the feet of a slant-top desk of the Chippendale period right for the rest of the piece, or are they of a type you have never seen supporting a similar desk?Individual taste is, of course, the prime factor in choosing the type of antique one collects, but in order that the reader may have a sort of yardstick for determining the merits or defects of a particular piece, we shall endeavor on this page to give him some concrete and practical points on judging the antiques in each of these categories.These should help him to decide whether a chair, table or case piece is in original condition; whether it has been restored and reconditioned within proper limits, or has been so extensively reworked as to be of little value as an antique; and finally, whether it is a deliberate fake or just a copy of an old piece, with no claim to being an antique.The presence of such a dowel therefore means that the piece was either made comparatively recently or is an antique that has been taken apart for regluing or reconstruction, and that the man who did the work was too indifferent to replace the many-sided pins.

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