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So how did the Restoration Team discover where the fragments came from?  Fortunately the larger of the two fragments retained several nails that could be dated.  Two of the larger nails found in the fragment were cut nails and so they could be quickly attributed to the fragment's reuse in ca. 1848.  However, three other nails, including one large wrought nail and two small wrought brads, were also found embedded into the fragment.  Because the large wrought nail was driven through the fragment from the back (resulting in a piece of wood splintering from the face of the chair rail), it too was dismissed because it could not have been used to install the rail in ca. 1797.  The two wrought brads, however, were clearly part of the original installation and similar examples found at Montpelier dated to either the ca. 1764 or ca. 1797 construction periods. Therefore the Restoration Team knew that the rail fragment  must date to either ca. 1764 or ca. 1797.


The chair rail fragment that had been reused as a nailer in ca. 1844.