When appraising antiques, one of the first things that we look for is a makers mark. No, we are not talking about whiskey folks… we are speaking of a mark placed on an item by the manufacturer, craftsman or artist. These marks are typically found in inconspicuous places. They may be hammered into metal items, stamped or branded on to wood, engraved, labeled or in the case of a work of art, signed or autographed. Any markings that we find will typically help date an item and in some cases help determine the value.
The stamp on this old hinge is a great example of a maker’s mark. This tells us that the hinge was manufactured by Union Mfg. Co. A little research reveals that the Union Mfg. Co. manufactured hinges and other non tool items from 1880 to 1919, thus giving us the ability to date this item. Quite often research will uncover very interesting information about a company. IBM, which had it’s beginnings in 1880 as a business machine company, for example, manufactured rifles and engine parts for the government during WWII as did many other manufacturing companies in the U.S. This type of historical data adds to the intrigue of an item.
Another great example of a makers mark is the stamp on this wood slat. Stamping or branding wood items is typically the last step in the manufacturing process. Stamping is a permanent method of including a company logo, manufacturing information or even care instructions onto an item. Permanent stamps can often be found on the back of furniture or on the inside of a drawer. Items that are built for industrial use such as crates and pallets will often display stamps in a more prominent location.
Realizing the historical relevance of the makers mark, we recently began placing a permanent stamp on our custom built wood items. The last thing that we do before a custom door leaves our wood shop is stamp it. Our hope is that somewhere down the road, perhaps a hundred years from now, someone will be researching and gathering historical data about a beautiful solid wood door that was crafted by Southern Accents.
Are you leaving a mark? If you are an artist, craftsman, carpenter, seamstress, etc., we encourage you to come up with your own unique makers mark. Leave a permanent imprint on the items that you create that will allow future generations to trace the items history.