Furniture design and age dating
By the mid-1870s, the great factories were in full swing turning out late-Victorian creations consisting mostly of Renaissance Revival and Eastlake furniture.
While not all the great factories used the Knapp machine, particularly those of Grand Rapids, Mich., most of the Eastern factories and other mid-Western areas were faithful customers of the Knapp company.
Over time, maintenance on the machines became a chore, but they were still a better alternative to handwork.
In the late 1800s, the Knapp joint was commonly found in the less-expensive version of the Renaissance Revival style called “Cottage Renaissance.” These pieces were made of inexpensive lumber and were cheaply decorated and finished.
Early furniture from this period is known from artwork such as a Venus figurine found in Russia, depicting the goddess on a throne.
This era saw constructed wooden pieces, including stools and tables, sometimes decorated with valuable metals or ivory.At the very height of its greatest popularity and use, the death knell of the Knapp joint was being sounded by a new movement afoot in the furniture-design industry, and it had nothing to do with the soundness or the economy of the joint.Like so many things, its demise turned on sentiment.Several inventors were hard at work on the problem in the 1860s, and most concentrated on trying to duplicate the handmade dovetail using a machine—that is until Mr. Knapp of Waterloo, Wis., applied himself to the task.He did some creative thinking and solved the problem not by duplicating the dovetail joint but by inventing another type of joint entirely that was at least as good as the dovetail and could be made by machinery.