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Before 1860, most drawer knobs, pulls, and implements were made by hand.
Feet and chair spindles were also carved individually, so there is no way each one could possibly look identical.
Some popular antiques are quite well documented and may be tied to a specific time period in history making an age determination quite simple. Adding to the complexity is the proliferation of copycat builders and modern furniture craftsmen who do an admirable job of cloning authentic antique furniture right down to the tool marks and date stamps.
Determining the age of antique furniture is the first step in establishing a proper valuation, as well as verifying that the piece is indeed an authentic furnishing from the era in question.
In fact, screws in general didn't really come into vogue until the turn of the 20th century.
The first machine made screw was produced in 1848, so anything that uses a complete set of screws that appear to be machine turned will most likely date from circa-1850 and later.
Fabric that is original on your antique can provide serious clues of its age.
Online searches for original pictures of your antique can help you match your fabric design to the appropriate era.
While it is possible that an owner replaced the knobs on an antique with more modern units, you'll most likely be able to tell.
There are many excellent antique furniture identification and price guides that provide valuable information on furniture periods, styles and eras.
Many of these books specialize in a specific era, such as Victorian furniture.
Walnut and mahogany were prevalent between the years 1700 to 1800, and maple and cherry were common from 1800–1900.
Oak enjoyed another 100 years of popularity from 1900 to the turn of the 21st century.