how to date paine furniture
Kristina Davis

This article will show you how to date Paine furniture.

You may have inherited a piece of Paine furniture (it sure looks ancient) but you want to have an idea about its exact age and possibly its value as well.

The Paine’s Furniture Company, considered once to be the biggest furniture maker and distributor in America

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It was founded by Leonard B. Shearer in 1835 (not under the official name of Paine’s Furniture Company yet), John Paine would join him later in 1845 when the name changed to Shearer & Paine in 1854.

It officially became the Paine Furniture Company in 1864 upon the death of Shearer.

By 1914, the Paine Furniture building was constructed and designed by Densmore and Leclear. Production continued until 1980 when the building was sold.

Paine’s Patio, founded by a sixth-generation Shearer family in 2003 has since replaced the old Paine’s furniture company.

It is usually more expensive compared to other kinds of antique furniture available.

There are still a good number of the old Paine furniture around dating as far back as the late Victorian period to the 20th century to postmodern 1945, and you may have one in your hands which indeed has you wondering about Paine furniture value.

Note that there are a good number of fakes, and very close copies of the original if you are considering getting antique Paine furniture.

Steps on How To Date Paine Furniture

steps to date furniture

Step #1: The Maker’s Mark

The maker’s mark is your first point of call if you want to know if what you have on your hands is indeed a genuine piece of Paine furniture.

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The maker’s mark or a telltale sign is the manufacturing tag or label that identifies the maker usually carrying his name.

This sign can be found on the underside of a chair, inside a drawer, or behind a chest of drawers.

For Paine furniture, this may tell you very little about its age as most of Paine’s labels or serial numbers do not sport dates on them.

But this may give you clues on how to narrow your search or help an expert better identify the piece.

Step #2: Check Catalogs, Make Comparisons

check the online catalogs

A good way to have an idea about the age of your Paine furniture is simply to check catalogs online, and compare what you have with the inventory listed there.

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You can find Paine Furniture Company’s 170-page catalog from Boston’s Public Library here, this is one of Paine Furniture Company’s oldest catalogs.

You may be lucky enough to find exactly what you have in the catalog, these catalogs carry details about every piece listed, its creation date, and its worth at creation (this does not necessarily represent the current worth).

It gives you a rough idea of its present value as well.

Do not limit your search to just one catalog alone; you can go through other public libraries or request one from the company.

Also, it makes good sense to search antique pages and other furniture communities online.

They usually have a gallery of items that may match what you have, and answer your questions related to such pieces.

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Step #3: Seek Expert Help

Oftentimes, your perusal through catalogs, and comparing images there and on the internet may yield little or less desirable results.

There are experts you can get, in-person and online who will help you determine just how old your piece of Paine furniture is, its value, and possibly how to dispose of it through sales.

antique expert

Here’s what to do: Take pictures of the piece

If you are meeting an expert in person, you wouldn’t want to carry the piece of furniture around especially if it is large.

Besides it being cumbersome, you may risk yourself getting robbed when the piece is indeed valuable

You can find an appraiser, experts may also be found in pawnshops, and auction houses are also a sure bet for you.

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Where time permits, attend an appraisal event where you will be sure to find experts gathered.

Taking a picture of your piece of furniture will come in handy when you decide to meet the expert online.

This way you can easily show what you have, receive feedback and decide your next course of action.

Note: the expert’s experience or specialization will determine whether or not you will get answers. There is a fat chance that they may have come across pieces like yours with years of dealing.

Identifying Other Valuable Pieces

identify pieces

There are other ways to self-determine just how old other antique furniture pieces are.

They are examining the kind of tools used, the kind of screws used, examining where the pieces come together and how well the elements match.

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Examine the Tools Used

The tools used in the creation of a piece will eventually determine its finished look, if you know where to look and a little knowledge of tools used for furniture making then you are good to go.

During the mid-1800s hand planes were used to smooth wood surfaces, always leaving the surface in an uneven state.

Around the mid-19th century furniture pieces were left with distinctive circular patterns.

As a result of the introduction of circular saws around that period. Manual saws were used before then.

Note: a piece of furniture that is hand-made does not automatically qualify as an antique.

The Screws Used

check the screw

Before 1848, screws were not entirely machine-made.

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A piece with an all-rounded shaft pointed tips, and well-finished heads with matching cuts to go with can be dated after 1848.

Those from before 1848 were partially machine-made with pointed tips and all-rounded shaft but the cuts were still made with hacksaws.

Blacksmiths were responsible for screw making before 1812 using square nail stocks heated and pounded to shape.

How Well Do Small Elements Match?

small element

Little furniture elements such as the chair’s spindle. The drawer’s knob can give an insight into how old that piece is.

Pieces fabricated with machines will have well-fitted elements that will be uniform across production whereas those created before 1860 will sport mismatched elements such as they were handmade.

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Next time, look at how the components are fitted together.

The Value of Paine Furniture

An appraiser will do a better job at estimating the value of your Paine furniture.

However, prices can go up to $900 at auctions or more. Remember prices are not fixed and change from time to time.


Getting to know how to date Paine furniture will help you look differently at those old pieces of furniture you may have inherited.

The original owners may not be around to tell its source but I trust you can figure it out yourself going forward.

Adios Amigo!