Construction techniques can assist you in dating furniture. In the 17th Century, butt and rabbet joints were used.
Hand-cut dovetails appeared late in that century and for the next 80 years or so, dovetails were wide, stubby, and crude. By the end of the 1700s, dovetails became thin and delicate. If you find Phillips head screws throughout, you don't have an antique. If it is 1/32nd of an inch thick, it is Victorian or newer, as compared to the 17th and 18th Century 1/16" to 1/8" veneers.
If you suspect there’s something unusual or distinctively well-made about your piece, go with your gut, Masaschi says, and ask someone who knows.
Early pieces that were handcrafted will sometimes bear an inscription from an individual furniture maker, a clue to its value that should be examined by a professional appraiser.
“There’s no hard and fast rule, but hand dovetailing was really no longer done in factories after that date,” Masaschi says.
Hand dovetails are slightly irregular and the pins are thin and tapered.
Game or card tables did not exist in great numbers until the end of the 17th Century.
Windsor chairs were not around before the Queen Anne period.
Then in the 1950s and 1960s they were using spray-on stencils.” Keep in mind that sometimes suites of furniture had only one piece marked, so if your piece got separated from its mates, you may have nothing to go by.