Dating antique secretary desk

The earliest examples are from furniture placed with mummies in Egypt thousands of years ago, and also in the burials of ancient Chinese emperors.For thousands of years, a dovetail joint was created by a skilled cabinetmaker using small, precision saws and wood chisels.Dovetail joints often hold two boards together in a box or drawer, almost like interlocking the fingertips of your hands.As the dovetail joint evolved through the last one hundred thirty years, it becomes a clue for the age and authenticity of antique furniture.Tool marks and obvious signs of rough cuts are fairly typical with pieces more than 150 years old.That said, it is important to realize that skilled craftsmen are building furniture by hand even today so you'll want to continue to investigate the age of the piece using at least one other method.A close inspection shows no irregular saw cuts or variation from a skilled craftsman, but rather a precise and identical manufactured machined joint.

Electric power tools, like routers and various types of saws were put into widespread use after World War II in the 1940's.Genuine hand made dovetails like these were the standard of good furniture craftsmanship until about 1870, when American ingenuity developed the “pin and cove” or round style dovetail, often seen on late Victorian and Eastlake furniture.These were cut with a jig or pattern, and an apprentice could create a very well fitting and attractive joint. European cabinetmakers continued their hand-cut dovetails well into the 1900's.This secretary desk from about 1780 was built by a good country carpenter, notice the dovetails on the side of the drawer, and holding the top and side planks together as well.Hand cut dovetails were used to hold the sides of drawers together, but also to join the structural members of case furniture.

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