Dating old nails

During the Middle Ages, furniture was held together with pegs, dovetails, mortise and tenon joints and a few nails.Archaeologists have found hand made bronze nails from as far back as 3000 BC.For thousands of years, the traditional hand-forged nail was square and tapered, with a hammered head attached by the blacksmith.One nail at a time was heated and laboriously pounded out to shape with a hammer on an anvil.

Looking at antique furniture, we often seek clues for authenticity and age.

There are many factors that show true historic construction, but one clue that is often overlooked is the type of nail used to hold the piece together.

Nails were fairly valuable, and ruined buildings were often burned and nails were scavenged from the ashes to reuse.

Carpenters still speak of nail sizes by the penny, abbreviated d for the Latin word for penny, denarius.

As Churchill noted, To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.The ancient Egyptians and Romans used organic glue for wood furniture, especially with decorative veneer techniques, but like much advanced technology, glue for wood became a lost art after the collapse of Rome in 476 until the Renaissance, around 1400, when glue and veneer techniques reappeared.

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