Piece of History: Nailed It

Paul found this as he was taking down the plaster in the upstairs bedrooms, sticking out of the door frame.

This one’s not rocket science, but let’s do this anyway.  Click for more…

It’s called a square nail, or a cut nail.  A young whipper-snapper like me had never come upon something like this before so I found this one particularly interesting–at least interesting enough to do a Google search.

The peak manufacture and use of this type nail is consider to be between 1820 -1910.  This fits with the timeline of when the house was build in 1890.

We can pretty safely assume these nails are original to the house because after about 1920, wire nails came into use.  They were cheaper and much faster to make since they could be completely made by machine.  As a random fun fact, the old square nails can hold more than four times better (?) than modern round ones (I don’t know what four times better means, but it sounds cool).  Apparently, some of the old square nails were so valuable that old buildings were burned down just to retrieve the nails.

Square nails are still being made and sold — usually for restoration work (but they are expensive).  So we’ll save any that we find during our renovation.


About Leigh

Born and raised in Rochester, MN, Leigh moved to the Twin Cities in 2004 for college. She stayed, and now works for a south metro city in the recycling department. In February of 2011, she and Paul bought a neglected farm house in the city to start our own urban hobby farm.

Posted on March 3, 2011, in Piece of History Files and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. what a wonderful idea…be a journalist documenting your soon to be beautiful new home. It’s exciting to read about…I fully expect you to find human bones soon. Hugs.

    • When my brother was taking the engines out of the service pit, he also had that very concern! So far no bones, although I know that the previous owner had a lot of dogs so it’s hard to say what we’ll dig up in the next few months.

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