Dating antique furniture handles

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It was only in the Eastlake period in the 1880s that brass hardware became important again.

The post at the top is handmade from the early 19th century.

The build up of wax or the overflow of brass cleaner will be evident. Its absence could mean the piece was meticulously maintained or that it has just been deeply cleaned or even refinished.

A quick peek inside the drawer might show the presence of holes that once accommodated the fasteners for hardware other than the current resident. The hardware of a 17th century piece would have been held in place by clinched cotter pins on the inside.

Some of the most alluring will describe a piece of furniture as having “original finish” or “original brasses.” That’s a real selling point when looking at a chest of drawers that might be 200 years old and think that those brass pulls have been there undisturbed for that whole time. It could be a pretty nice Colonial Revival chest or desk or dresser, in excellent condition, that catches your fancy. Early 18th century hardware was cast from molten brass using molds made of sand.If machine-made threads and octagonal machine-made nuts are visible, something’s up.As a last resort, if possible, remove the existing hardware from the drawer front.I have yet to find a book or source that deals with this narrow subject, so as you read related antiques materials, you just have to mentally catalog what hardware looks like for a given period style.Although many pieces of antique furniture have survived through the centuries, unfortunately a great number of them are missing some or all of their original hardware.

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