Dating furniture by nails

It is 2 1/2" long, 1/4" in diameter, rnd = round head (& shank), I = indented figures, stl = steel, (07) = code for American Steel & Wire, 18 = the date.(These and all other photos of single nails on these pages were taken by Tom Meyer.) For a photo of a date nail in a tie in the track, click here.Over 2,000 different date nails were used by North American railroads which show the year.Add to that the nails which tell wood, treatment, and other information, and toss in all date nails used in poles and other timbers, and the total number of different nails from this continent easily exceeds 3,500. This one was manufactured to be 2 1/2" long (it was cut a little short), and is made from steel wire 1/4" in diameter. Note the crude, somewhat faint diamond on the shank to the left of the anchor markings.For example, compare the Lehigh Valley with the New York Central: The LV 11 is the same style nail as the NYC 11: square head & shank, indented numbers. The NYC stuck primarily with square nails while the LV used round nails.Neither company was loyal to a single steel company, either.

It is a 62 (unreadable in the photo) from the Florida East Coast.Still others used them for a short time (Monon: 1908-1910) and others for a long time (Santa Fe: 1901-1969).Often the shape of the nail head has some significance.In fact, some railroads found that dated ties lasted longer than usual because the men took special care of them.In the first decade of the 20th century railroads which used date nails drove them into every treated tie.

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