These routers were ancestors of the electric precision tools of today, and could be used to rapidly cut a machined dovetail joint.
Each cut is exactly like the others, each “tail” and “pin” are exactly matched.
Tiny angled saw cuts were followed by careful cutting by a sharpened chisel on both sides to avoid splintering.
One board had tiny “tails,” and the other had the larger “pins,” carefully measured to match and fit together exactly.
There are several types of businesses that carry, and often specialize in, original hardware for antique furniture.
These include architectural artifact companies, antique hardware shops and some antique stores.
Steam power, transferred by pulleys and leather belts, operated saws, carving machines and routers that could copy an original pattern exactly.
Here is an early example of machine-cut dovetails on a 1920's sideboard from a dining set: European cabinetmakers continued to produce hand-cut dovetails through the 1930's.
Electric power tools, like routers and various types of saws were put into widespread use after World War II in the 1940's.
It is important for those interested in antique furniture to be aware of the types and styles of hardware used on a specific piece including the material and design.
It is also helpful to know where to find original and high quality reproduction hardware for antique furniture.