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Nails are helpful clues for dating historic buildings.

Lee H. Nelson of the National Park Service provides a chronology of nails and methods for discerning the general time period of a building’s construction.

Gathering samples of nails can also show if a building was built at one time or over a span of time.

Nelson provides an explanation of hand wrought and machine made nails with diagrams of how different nails look and how they would have been constructed.

Technical Leaflet #48 (1968)

For more information on similar topics, please refer to Technical Leaflet Bundle 2, Historic House Restoration: Getting Started, and Technical Leaflet Bundle 24, 21st Century Top Five.