Dating antiques square nails
Early dovetail construction sometimes featured only one pin and it was often nailed in place.
Early Colonial ( 18th century) dovetail joints featured three or four stubby dovetails and they were glued, not nailed.
By the Federal period (late 18th and early 19th century) dovetails became finer and more precise until evolving into the five or six slender pins seen in mid 19th century Victorian furniture.
Dovetail joints are excellent joints but they take a long time to make by hand.
This type of joint is fairly easy to make, requiring no sophisticated tools and is still seen in typical “high school shop” type projects and in lesser quality commercial goods, especially when non-wood compositions are used in drawer construction. One, nails of the 17th century were rare and precious, being individually hand made and two, the joint wasn’t very strong.
Note: Since these trunks are very old and have seen much use, there are certainly the expected signs of age, but none that detract from their usefulness or beauty.Of course single drawers and combinations of drawers were made earlier but appeared usually as an adjunct to the lift top or dower chest which was the most common chest type in the that century.The most common storage facility of the era was the cupboard or court cupboard consisting of open shelves below doors which concealed more shelves.The suspension idea ranges from the simple runner in the case to support the drawer sides, to a slot cut in the side of the drawer to engage a runner (the Pilgrim “hung” drawer), to a guide added to the center bottom of the drawer to engage a runner, to the nylon roller and ballbearing suspensions found in modern manufactured furniture.But since suspensions are not always reliable and since wood expands and contracts due to weather and time a more significant consideration is “How is the drawer held together?