Antique Collecting

Antique Collecting

ABOUT fifty years ago, when the subject of English furniture first began to be studied and to be written about, it was divided conveniently into four distinct types. One writer called his books on the subject The Age of Oak, The Age of Walnut, The Age of Mahogany and The Age of Satinwood. It is not really quite as simple as that, for each of the so-called Ages overlaps the others and it is quite impossible to lagt down strict dates as to when any one timber was introduced or when it finally, if ever, went out of favour.

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Valuable Antiques

One word of caution concerning valuable antiques Make a distinction between good old furniture and very valuable antique furniture. The very valuable antique piece is a collector's item. Its value comes not only from its age and condition, but also from the fact that it probably is identified as exemplary of a style, designer or period, such as Chippendale, Hepplewhite or English Regency. Pieces such as these require very special care in order to retain their value as collector's items. It is important, for example, not to strip the finish from such pieces, since the original finish is an integral part of and contributes heavily to the value of the piece. Repairs to such finishes are delicate jobs, to be attempted only after you have gained considerable experience. These days, because of their dollar value, valuable antiques are seldom used in a home. They are displayed, of course, but they are often worth far too much to be exposed to the dangers of everyday use. Look for these Roman...

Comments On Frauds And Fraudulent Methods

As time goes on and the prices on antiques continually advance, the whole subject of fraudulent and fake furniture becomes of increasing importance and certainly of great moment to the amateur whose knowledge and experience do not qualify him to distinguish with certainty the genuine from the fraudulent. The flair for discerning the genuine in old furniture does not exclusively dwell with the educated. I have seen this flair very well developed in ignorant and unlettered secondhand dealers. The mysterious manner in which some of these quite uneducated men can recognize beauty, age, and fineness, not only in furniture but in all sorts of ancient objects, is almost uncanny. They know antiques, not by periods, names, or dates, but by the objects' own beauty and worth and evidences of age. There seems to be a widely extended feeling at present, particularly with the newer collectors, that there is hardly any genuine antique furniture available that almost all the furniture shown in the...

Style and type of construction

In the United States this style was also promoted by designers and makers such as the Herter Brothers and Louis Comfort Tiffany who worked for clients who wanted furniture to reflect the contemporary aesthetic sensibilities. On the other hand the Colonial revival of the 1870s onward, revealed a nostalgia for America's past, whether it be from 1620 or 1820. As well as an interest in the antiques of the past, the revival was also a response to the fully blown Victorian furniture that was rejected by other groups such as the Arts and Crafts movement and often for similar reasons.

Restoration repairs and wood finishing Structural repairs

The repair of modern everyday furniture usually calls for cutting out and replacing broken parts, fixing false tenons or dowels to fractured joints, strengthening joints with metal straps, insets or angle pieces, renewing whole members where necessary, and in general applying normal cabinet-making skills. Valuable antique furniture repairs require expert know-how with carefully matched old wood, scraps of old saw-cut veneer, and a keen appreciation of period, colour and patina, together with considerable skills in carving, veneering, inlaying, marquetry cutting, staining, polishing and lacquering, etc. Any such antique repairs should not be undertaken without considerable experience of the particular type of work, for repairs inexpertly done or out of period can detract from, or even destroy, the market value. A recent development in the repair of valuable antique furniture has been the use of Araldite epoxy resin adhesive (CIBA ARL Ltd) with suitable reactive diluents, fillers and...

Hidden compartments for special seasonings

Military Campaign Chest Trunk

Lee Ellen Griffith, an antique dealer and guest curator, had put together a show and catalog of 58 spice boxes encompassing the popular styles from William and Mary of the late 1600s to Hepple-white of the late 1700s. I was already aware of the spice-box form and the line-and-berry inlay, but the variety of work in this show-inspired me to further study.

Delicate inlay fans life into a traditional piece

Wood Stringing Inlay Design

At an antiques show, a small mahogany Hepplewhite chest with a delicate fan inlay beckoned me. The owners let me measure and draw it, but we haven't been able to learn much more about this beautiful unsigned piece, except that it came from an old home in Fauquier County, the heart of Virginia's horse country.

Educated guesses fill in the gaps

Carlyle Lynch Contour Tracer

Analyzing antiques is part detective work, some guesswork and much careful measurement. Lynch finds a 6-in. sliding ride good for measuring small pieces like drawers and as a caliper to gauge thicknesses. The ICydrawer mahogany case he's examining is one of the jewels hidden in Duncan Phyfe's tool chest. Analyzing antiques is part detective work, some guesswork and much careful measurement. Lynch finds a 6-in. sliding ride good for measuring small pieces like drawers and as a caliper to gauge thicknesses. The ICydrawer mahogany case he's examining is one of the jewels hidden in Duncan Phyfe's tool chest.

Movement And Shrinkage

Tortrix Viridana Effects Wood

A full understanding of the reasons for the shrinkage of wood, the probable extent of the movement and the direction it is likely to take (wood is not a homogeneous solid and the movement is not equal in all directions) is essential if furniture is to be soundly constructed, for it is impossible to lock wood fibre permanently against its natural inclinations, and its strength is such that it will eventually overcome every effort to confine it. Furthermore, the increasing use of artificial heating means drier atmospheres and greatly increased shrinkage values, and this equally applies no matter how old the wood is, for even antique furniture will rapidly disintegrate in over-heated surroundings. It should be pointed out, however, that heat alone is not inimical to wood it is the degree of dryness occasioned by the heat which is the deciding factor.

A lightweight table with a marquetry top

Some years ago, Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., was given a collection of antique Chinese export porcelain of such beauty and value that a museum was built to display it. This bequest included several pieces of furniture, among them a pair of small mahogany stands with marquetry tops. The exact age of the stands has not been determined, but similar ones, identified as urn stands, appear in George Hepplewhite's 1794 classic, The Cabinet-Maker & Upholsterer's Guide.

Knowing Collecting And Restoring Early American Furniture Ninth Impression

MY FIRST encounter with the problems involved in the refinishing of antique furniture occurred many years ago and impressed me deeply. A friend of mine, while somewhat overzealously engaged in scraping a venerable mahogany table top with a fragment of broken glass, seriously lacerated his hand. At the gory moment I felt that he had suffered a serious accident. Subsequently, I came to realize that the damage which he had sustained was insignificant in comparison with the ruin which he had inflicted upon the table. Time cures most human wounds but naught avails to heal the mangled surface of a time-mellowed piece of furniture. That lesson far too many American buyers of antiques have yet to learn. They have reached the point of cherishing the idea of age in their possessions, but have failed to attain full appreciation of the charm and value of its aspect. In consequence, they are prone to subject their early furniture to a course of scraping, sometimes of planing, to remove from it...

Surface damage

Slight bruising of surfaces where the actual fibres are not fractured can often be lifted by the repeated application of a heated iron tip through a wet cloth, creating sufficient steam to swell the fibres up. Bruises in bare wood can also be lifted by flooding the bruise with methylated spirit and setting fire to it, but the wood must not be scorched. There is no guarantee that the bruises will be eradicated entirely, for much depends on the elasticity of the wood fibres and their ability to recover, but it is always worth a trial. Deeper scratches, dents and bad bruising will have to be cut out and plugged with wood or filled with hard stoppers, plastic wood, etc. coloured to match the finished work. If wood plugs are used they should be cut to an elongated diamond shape with the grain direction carefully matched, placed on the damaged surface, scribed round and the recess cut the plugs should be slightly bevelled in the thickness for a close fit. All possible help should be given...

Inlay Repairs

Figures 543-5 show the extensive renovation and repair of a set of six Regency-style chairs carried out by Mr CM. Lacey of Brighton, England. (The appellations 'Genuine Antique', 'Genuine Regency' etc., etc., cannot be applied to any furniture made after 1830, which is the fixed datum line. As it would be impossible to distinguish between furniture of the same type or style made in, say. 1820 and 1840, any claim to genuineness must be supported by an original bill of sale or other trustworthy documentary evidence. The terms 'Antique Style', 'Regency Style', etc. therefore mean exactly what they say, i.e. 'in the style of . . .'. They could be genuine antique but are not claimed as such). The chairs in question were beech framed stained in imitation of rosewood, with a beautifully executed Boulle inlay of brass and rosewood veneer on the curved back rails as there was no point in using old beech, even if it could be obtained (beech is highly susceptible to woodworm), new wood was used...

Word On Collecting

It would seem that almost every cultured American home shelters at least one member who collects or at least has some knowledge of those things which were made and put to daily use by our ancestors. Museums which, not so long ago, gave scant attention to things American, now have fine collections properly classified and displayed. Local historical societies flourish, and, by means of frequent exhibits, bring to light fine examples of early American craftsmanship long hidden in seclusion. The popular magazines devote much space to articles on the collecting of American antiques. It is almost axiomatic that, sooner or later, all of our collectors will become collectors of furniture. Of course we often encounter families who, among their modern possessions, boast a few first-rate early American examples 'family pieces. Here, however, we are likely to find faint knowledge, strongly flavored with very inaccurate family tradition which insists that we regard with...

Whitechapel Hardware

Victorian houses, built in the 19th century, are notable for their embellishments, inside and out. In this home, Hiller designed a butler's pantry in a small hallway that connects the kitchen to the dining room. Her cabinetry takes some of its inspiration from the client's collection of antiques, and mirrors the profuse detail found in the home's cornice moldings, baseboards, stairway, and door and window casings.

You rang

WHILE 'RESTING' between orders some years ago I decided to make a speculative piece on the lines of a butler's table, examples of which I had seen in antique shops -they are made up of a large tray, designed for the butler to carry to and from the pantry, which fits on top of a side table. The sides of the tray are hinged so that they can be locked into an upright position when the tray is being carried. These special spring-loaded hinges are

James I Crowned

Early Tudor Portraits Four Poster Bed

WHEN a passion for collecting antique furniture first swept America, and prizes were plucked from attics, cellars and old barns, the eagle eye of the amateur sought only those fine pieces that were made in the age of mahogany and satin-wood. Every piece was dubbed Colonial with rash generalisation until the time when a little erudition apportioned the well-made distinctive furniture to its proper classes. Then every person of culture became expert on eighteenth century furniture, and the names of Chippendale and his prolific mates fell glibly from all lips.

Column veneering

The glue has set the webbing is removed, the overlap joint cut through, the edges warmed, fresh glue inserted, hammered down and strapped with tape. Jointed up or fragile veneers which do not bend easily may have to be reinforced with a glued paper cover before wrapping, while intricate inlays and built-up patterns of small elements may have to be glued firmly to a supporting base of thin fabric which must be dampened slightly before bending and gluing in position. (Subsequent cracking, crazing and lifting of highly figured or spiteful veneers mahogany curls, rosewood, etc. can often be prevented by the traditional method of backing the veneer with glued muslin prior to laying. See also Yorkite crossbanding veneer, page 307). Large columns of either coopered or laminated construction can be made in convenient sections, each section hammer or caul veneered and then reassembled with either tongued and grooved or rubbed joints but such work belongs more properly to specialized joinery...