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If it has only a few dovetail joints, with pins narrower than the dovetails, then the joint was made by hand.Look carefully at the bottom, sides, and back of the drawer; if the wood shows nicks or cuts, it was probably cut with a plane, a spokeshave, or a drawknife. If the wood shows circular or arc-shaped marks, it was cut by a circular saw, not in use until about 1860. Smith needed sofas for the Obama Oval Office, he turned to Steven Jonas, the president of an upholstery and curtains firm dating from the 1920s.It was founded by his great-uncle Samuel Langer, an Austrian émigré who had worked with such artisans as Josef Hoffmann.A lacquer or varnish finish is a sure sign of later manufacture.Testing a finish isn’t always possible in a dealer’s showroom, but if you can manage it, identify the finish before you buy.The walnuts quickly became almost entirely superseded by the exotic newcomer, which remained the favourite choice for the next century, especially in England and America.American furniture styles have seen a significant number of style periods since the early Colonial era, with each period being to some degree influenced by the pieces being built in Europe (generally England and France).
Around the 1670s they came to recognise the better properties of the walnut, which dense grain allowed for lighter and finer shapes of the furniture, and quickly turned into a most fashionable material.If the piece has drawers, remove a drawer and look carefully where the front and back of the drawer are fastened to the sides of the drawer.If a joint was dovetailed by hand, it has only a few dovetails, and they are not exactly even; if it has closely spaced, precisely cut dovetails, it was machine-cut.And that is even if you are focusing on only one aspect of this very diverse subject.
When trying to identify antique furniture, dedicated antique hunters search for beautifully preserved pieces, armed with pins, magnifying glasses, spirit levels and all sorts of testing equipment.Exact symmetry is another sign that the piece was machine-made.