Dating furniture hinges
There are several types of businesses that carry, and often specialize in, original hardware for antique furniture. These include architectural artifact companies, antique hardware shops and some antique stores. The following are several of these suppliers that have a brick and mortar location as well as an online presence. In the past, finding original hardware for antique furniture has often been challenging and frustrating experience. However, today there are many excellent suppliers of high quality reproduction hardware pieces where each item is accurately crafted in every detail as they were in earlier times.
Their restoration hardware is hand crafted using the Lost Wax method of casting. These exquisite pieces are made in old brass and are completely accurate in every detail including a patina that is years old.
Their reproduction hardware is offered in antique or polished brass. Horton Brasses offers a vast selection of more than pieces of brass and iron reproduction hardware for antique furniture and cabinets.
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Whether it matters is a concern for another day. Today the discussion is just on determining the originality of hardware.
Since changing or altering hardware is one of the quickest and cheapest ways of improving the look of an otherwise-bland piece, the pulls are always suspect, especially if they look really good. Early 18th century hardware was cast from molten brass using molds made of sand.
The backs of this type of hardware were often left with the impression of the sand while the faces were polished. Around the middle of the 18th century the customary blend of copper and zinc was changed to include more copper, giving the alloy more of a reddish cast than the pale yellow brass used for hardware earlier in the century. And by , rolled brass sheets were available so that each piece of hardware could be cut or stamped rather than having to be cast.
System for Dating Country and Primitive Furniture, Part One
This greatly reduced the cost and increased the availability and uniformity of late 18th century drawer pulls and escutcheons. The use of high pressure rollers during the Federal period increased output even more. No longer did decorative pulls have to be engraved or chased individually. The designs were rolled right into the brass itself.
An excellent example of this kind of work is the ornate oval backplate of Hepplewhite pulls of the early s with flags, acorns and leaves embossed on them. Another innovation of the Federal period was the reversing of the bail the handle.
Dating antique furniture hinges
In the Queen Anne period, the bail was inserted into the round heads of posts implanted in the backplate. The ends of the bail entered the posts from the inside and the bail hung between the two posts. In the Federal era, the bails entered the post from the outside so that they surrounded the posts.
But much of that became moot as time rolled on. The Empire period certainly had decorative hardware but that was the end of it for nearly half a century.
Original Hardware for Antique Furniture
The Late Classicism style of the s and s used almost no brass hardware and Rococo Revival and Renaissance Revival used very little. It was only in the Eastlake period in the s that brass hardware became important again.
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The post at the top is handmade from the early 19th century. Note the rough texture and the shallow, flat treads. This post started as a square rod.