Furniture dating in roman numerals
Until the very end of the 1700's, most nails in better furniture had a head that was rose-cut or faceted like an old miner's cut diamond.
Here are examples of hand-forged nails with tapered square shafts and hand-hammered heads from the 1700's: This immigrant's pine trunk was made about 1800, and has the original hand painted inscription: Catherina Iud aus (from) Konigsberg (in East Prussia, Germany) uber (via) Bremen nach (for) Neu Iork (New York).
Nails in antique furniture are often barely noticeable, but they are another key to unlock the history of wooden pieces.
The quest for the ideal nail has taken centuries of development.
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.
Nails are one of many clues to the age and authenticity of antique furniture and building construction as well.
The Romans made many of their nails from iron, which was harder, but many ancient iron nails have rusted away since.
The hand-forged nail changed little until well into the 1700's.
This is an example of a replica cut nail: In Europe in the 1850's, steel wire was made into tiny nails known as brads, with only a very small widened head.
These continue to be used to attach small moldings and trim.