My Winterberry Farm Primitives Shop Blog

Friday, May 16, 2014

Snipe Hinges: What Are They?

Hello and welcome to the first Winterberry Farm Primitives Store Blog. I decided to start this blog to answer some of the questions that I get concerning primitive antiques, what they are and how to decorate with them. What is a snipe hinge and why were they used in early America? The snipe hinge is probably the earliest type of hinge used on American furniture and document boxes. Two 'cotter' pins are used to make the snipe hinge and here is a picture of how they are added to the piece of furniture or document box from the website
Each cotter pin was drilled through one part of the furniture or document box and then the ends of the pin are bent back to secure it in the wood.
Here is a picture of the snipe hing on the interior of my circa 1790-1800 William and Mary chest over drawers that illustrates that bending back of the pin. Using snipe hinges to help you date your antique is a helpful guide but beware of the new reproduction furniture that has the same style of hinge. When you look at the hinges (and the piece of furniture or document box) several things will pop out at you including the perfection of the new hinges.
They will usually look too 'perfect' unlike this picture of the same snipe hinge that in on the outside of my William and Mary chest. Snipe hinges can also help you figure out where your piece of furniture or box originated. Snipe hinges were used in early New England and can help you figure out the origin of your antique. Below are a couple of my favorite boxes from my collection that have snipe hinges. One is a tobacco stained document box that is circa 1800-1820 and the other is a dome top document box that is early 19th century. Both are from the New England area and are wonderful early boxes. and here are pictures of their hinges There is a small document box in my May 2014 update that has snipe hinges on it and it is an early box. Here is a picture of one of the snipe hinges on the little box.
Not all early document boxes were painted and this little box never had paint on it but sometime in its history, a vibrant and colorful wallpaper was added to the interior.
Check it out on my website at It is under the Primitive Antiques button and is #1708. That's all until next time! Have a great weekend and don't forget to check out my May 2014 Update today, May 16, 2014! UPDATE to this blog! The early little document box with the snipe hinges that was in the month's update has sold! Thank you!