Dating antique furniture hinges
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.The use of hand tools and hand-cut dovetails is now the province of hobbyists and a few small shops creating authentic replicas of antique 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.
The Customs Office defined "antique" in this way to encourage the importation of antiques from abroad.
Previously "antiques" were anything made before 1820 (rather strict) because of the Industrial Revolution, and the belief that hand-crafted items were superior to machine-made items.
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