Nails as a System for Dating Antique & Primitive Furniture

Posted by Tropical Twister under Articles , My Spinning Wheels 
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I’ve been reading a facinating (and who would have thought nails fascinating) history of nail technology. Because nail technology evolved over time, the nails used in a particular piece of furniture can be used to date the piece within about 20 years.

Click HERE to learn more about nails. Apparently, a great deal of research was done by Edwards and Wells at Lousianna State University . Their book is currently out-of-print but several sites promise a reprint soon. As I read, the Rose Head is the earliest hand wrought nail head (1700’s), 1790-1835 the nails could be recognized by pinch just under the head. Later nails, had no pinch. The grain in the Rose Heads ran the length of the nail. “from 1790 to 1848 the grain of a machine cut nail runs across rather than with the length of the shaft. In 1848, a new machine was introduced that cut nails, once again, in-line with the grain of wrought iron. This machine was used until steel replaced wrought iron in 1885”.

Here are photos of nails on my Mystery Wheel (click on photos for larger images) :

Using the descriptions and explanations above, I don’t think they fit the description of “rose nails”. I’ve noted the grain of “my” nails runs the length of the nail, not cross grain, and that there is no pinching present. I’m thinking the nails date 1848 to 1885 because the grain goes with the length of the nail and there is no pinch.

Seems like this is a nice example of a Victorian spinning wheel (Queen Victoria reigned 1838 -1901) and I’m guessing it may have been built in Scandinavia.

Anybody with an opinion is welcome to weigh into the debate.

Tropical Twister


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