Henry mercer dating old houses
But as these latter continued in use for certain purposes (often for floors) until long after the middle of the nineteenth century, their confused evidence should here be thrown out of consideration.An examination, not only of the records above mentioned but also of dated nails, shows that about the year 1825, the cut-nail machine, still working by water-power rather than by hand, and not yet by steam, had been so perfected as to make cut nails no longer by two operations but by a single operation in one ma-chine, in which the apparatus cut the nail, instantly clamped it and, at a single blow, stamped the head. 1825 to 1830) comparatively thin, lopsided and imperfect, became more thick, square and typically regular after 1830 and are always easily recognizable after about 1840.They also show, that very early in the nineteenth century, this troublesome turning of the nail-plate was superseded by wriggling or staggering the blade of the cutter during the operation, so as to reverse the taper at each stroke without, turning the nail-plate.At first, also, in order to dispense with the difficulty of the usual heading, angle-headed (L headed) and headless nails called "brads" were made.This was made at first by dropping the freshly cut piece, point downward, into a slotted clamp or vise, and then spreading the larger projecting end with a hammer, as in the case of the wrought nail.Cut nails are easily distinguishable from wrought nails by the following very apparent differences.
The evidence clearly shows that in the Colonial period in America the common iron, house-door hinges were made always of wrought iron until 1776 to 1783, when cast-iron hinges suddenly and universally took their place.
Cast-iron door hinges, called butt hinges, comparatively small, compact, book-shaped, mortised into the edges, not set upon the faces of the door, of the common present type (See Fig.
8), be-cause of their superior cheapness, came into universal use, no less suddenly, though a little earlier, than cut nails. butt hinges, of wrought-iron or brass, and never of cast-iron, bad been made before 1775, generally for closets, or furniture, but none was found by the writer on room doors, in the houses examined.
The smith was here furnished, not with a nail rod, but with a strip of plate iron, several feet long, about two and a quarter inches wide, and often about one-eighth of an inch thick.
This strip he slid into a cutter, worked at first by hand power, resembling those used by bookbinders to trim books, and not here shown.
The evidence conclusively shows that these cut nails every-where superseded the ancient wrought nail at the end of the eighteenth century, namely, not long after 1797, when two cut-nail factories had been established in Philadelphia, and there-fore, if used by the builder, they will date a house as having been built after that year.