Collectibles-General (Antiques)/antique bed


QUESTION: I have a rope bed that is like none I have seen before. It is handmade, wood dowels, handmade 7" nail threaded into screws, you can see the chisel marks in the holes in the posts for the side rails. I would like to know the age, style and how rare this bed is. Thank you

ANSWER: the construction is typical of rural beds made between 1830 and 1870 although this one i suspect is about 1850..  understand that i cannot see any detail in the photos which means i am blind as to tool marks, and wood species.  the wood could be cherry, maple, birch or tulip poplar, perhaps even sweet gum.  to know i would need clear photos as close as the second picture of several ares of wood grain.

i also suspect there is a piece missing on top of each post.  it might have been a nail or dowel that would have secured  a simple canopy that held fabric or netting.

what you describe as a handmade nail threaded into screws we refer to as bed bolts, yes possibly hand cut, that screw into a captured square nut behind the rectangular wood plug in the rail.  There should be 8 total bolts and captured nuts.

style would be country hepplewhite
rare, no, but of an unusual design, yes.  i would have to see in person to determine the skill of the maker.

how did you come by this and where?

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QUESTION: I found this bed in McCreary county ky. I bought it from a woman who said she got it from a local family that claimed it was from the 1700's. The top of the square post have no finish on them. But no marks of anything attached to them in the past. The post tapered so the middle is thicker then either end. I know furniture somewhat, I believe the workmanship to be very good. Thank you for you time.

determining the age to within about 30 years is going to be the best anyone can do but that would have to be done with  a hands on examination by someone who has knowledge of tool used and the marks they leave.

family history stories are the least accurate gauge.  it does appear looking at the mortices that the rails were a good fit as there is little distortion from wiggle.

we also find that in rural areas it is more difficult to determine age accurately since a grandson could have been working in the same shop using the same tools as his gandpa.

regardless, you have found a jewel!  thanks

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robert klein


In regards to American antique, vintage and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing, and value. I do not study mid century and later furniture nor do I deal in lamps, and other smalls. You may ask for values and I will give you current market values, I will not give you 'feel good' values. Understand that there are many factors that contribute to market value. If you want a feel good, unrealistic number, please call a local inexperienced appraiser. It is my desire to help you and in doing so I increase my knowledge as well. For that I thank you.


I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars by various organizations, institutions, and private collectors.

Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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