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This lavishly hand-carved cabinet from about 1890 shows structural dovetail joints on the back side.Genuine hand made dovetails like these were the standard of good furniture craftsmanship until about 1870, when American ingenuity developed the “pin and cove” or round style dovetail, often seen on late Victorian and Eastlake furniture.These were cut with a jig or pattern, and an apprentice could create a very well fitting and attractive joint. European cabinetmakers continued their hand-cut dovetails well into the 1900's.Popular here into the 1890's, these joints never gained acceptance outside of the U. The next technological development in joinery was again American.To determine if a piece of mirror is old, hold the tip of a key to the glass.

A close inspection shows no irregular saw cuts or variation from a skilled craftsman, but rather a precise and identical manufactured machined joint.

Twentieth-century tables may be reinforced with large, crimped staples.

A one-board top, made from a single piece of wood, is a good indication of age.

These machine-cut dovetails are as strong and long lasting as the hand-made joints, and became the standard of better American furniture ever since the late 1890's.

Here is an early example of machine-cut dovetails on a 1920's sideboard from a dining set: European cabinetmakers continued to produce hand-cut dovetails through the 1930's.

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