Info

are new. This same clever ignoramus is responsible for much. It is for his delectation that fine and whole pieces of china are broken up and then rivetted together; he then snaps up greedily a thing which he would not have touched in the first instance. The little knowledge about old furniture, which every one has nowadays, so far from alarming the dealer in frauds has made him rub his hands. No fool is so easily imposed upon as the clever fool.

One more point, and that is that it is a mistake to suppose that the finest furniture cannot be made nowadays. A piece of furniture is beautiful in itself, not by reason of its age; and the most finished workmanship can be put into anything at the present day.. The great difficulty lies in the fact that the public will not pay for the best work. Masters and men alike are afraid of spending too long over a given task: they know it does not pay. The best work is necessarily very costly, and I know, when I have had a skilled workman repairing things for me, my chief difficulty has been to make him take long enough over the task. He has felt that he had not enough work to show if he devoted a day to some tiny but all important detail.

EARL«^:ST, with "linen-fold" carving- and old lock. {In the possession of Seymour Lucas, Esq., R.A.) This is a particularly interesting chest, first on account of the great beauty of the "linen-fold" carving, and secondly on account of the short centre panel, obviously made to allow space for the lock.

Plate V

Plate V

EARLY CHEST, with "linen-fold" carving. Henry VII or Henry VIII period. {In the possession of Seymour Lucas, Esq., R.A?) This piece is interesting by reason of the carving being on the spandrils and framing as well as on the panels. The brackets under the front legs are also noteworthy.

Lastly, I would say that I have bought furniture in all parts of the country from Dundee to Penzance, but there is really no occasion for the Londoner to go wandering. London is the happiest hunting-ground in the world, and those who are able to add anything rare and beautiful to their household treasures, will find the possession of it a constant joy. You never tire of the really good thing as you do of something emanating from a bad period. Above all, do not sell anything. A bad financial crisis may be weathered, but the treasure which you parted with in an evil hour becomes yearly more difficult to acquire again. Buying good furniture is a sound investment, for its value constantly increases, but do not regard a hobby in this light. You only get an aesthetic dividend, and the time comes when you would as soon sell your chief gems of furniture as a mother would sell her children.

My chief object in this book is to point out what admirable taste and fitness the great masters showed, in the different periods, in constructing furniture which was at once beautiful and perfectly adapted to people's requirements, and to show the collector of moderate means what is worth buying.

the second chapter

OAK FURNITURE

HAUCER mentions " wicker chairs" in one of his Canterbury Tales, otherwise we might presume that oak was "the only wear" in furniture up to the end of Henry VIII.'s reign, as we have no remains of anything but oak furniture of that early period. Probably the oldest pieces of oak furniture are the long narrow tables on massive pillared legs, with stretchers or struts at a short distance from the floor. These stretchers served to strengthen the table and also made a rest for the feet, in the days when carpets were unknown and rooms were very far from draught proof. The tops of these tables are one and a half to two inches thick, and generally their sole decoration consists of some carving on the frame just under the top, as is shown in Plates 2 and 3.

It is difficult to date these tables; probably none are later than Elizabeth ; how much earlier they may be one can only guess, but that they are not later is certain. Most people err in thinking them much less old than 8

PLAIN OAK YORKSHIRE DOWER-CHEST, with drawers. {In the possession of Mrs. Wyltie.) This chest may be of a fairly late date, as this kind was made in Yorkshire until about 100 years ago. The form of the rising panels, however, belongs to the Stuart period, and the chest is pegged together with wooden pegs after the manner of quite remote times. There is a curious hinged flap on the inside to hold up the lid.

LARGE OAK GATE-LEG TABLE. Stuart period. {In the possession of Mrs. Wyllie^) This table possesses very fine deeply cut spiral legs.

they really are. Mr. Seymour Lucas, R.A. (who is one of the best authorities on antique oak) had formerly in his possession an extremely fine one with the top inlaid with bog oak and holly, which he dated Henry VIII. It is the only one I have ever heard of that was decorated in this way; the two illustrated are probably of earlier date. These very massive dining- or side-tables are so thick and substantial in every way, that there is no reason why they should not date from the earliest times of English history, since even those that have been put away in a barn or disused stable for centuries, are not materially damaged. There is really nothing short of fire, or chopping them up, that will get rid of them, and most of them probably date from the early Henrys. There is no furniture, in my opinion, which shows traces of the influence of the Roman occupation of Britain, unless it is these long-shaped massive tables, which may have been derived from furniture in use by the Romans, for the same long-shaped tables appear in early Italian pictures, and we may reasonably suppose them to be the outcome of Roman furniture.

Some of the dower-chests must also date from the Tudor kings, possibly from the c 9

Conquest, or may be even from Saxon times. Oak settles and oak dressers—plain, not inlaid—are often very old too; though, being of thinner wood, it is, unlikely that any of the earliest of them remain to us. The dower-chest, filled with linen of her own spinning, which was each bride's possession when she went to her new home, was really the beginning of all our elaborate wardrobes and chests of drawers and cabinets. It shows the dawn of the first idea for furniture, as distinct from the necessary tables and chairs. Apparently even the poorest bride would not, or could not, be married without one; for there are immense numbers of them — and genuine old ones too—remaining all over the country. The earliest, and rarest of these are plain, with the lid made of one very thick plank, with great wrought-iron hinges on the inside of the lid. They are not especially beautiful; they are rude and heavy, but interesting as showing the beginning of the dower-chest. When these first chests and tables were made, probably the planks were all cut from the felled tree with an axe, which would explain why the wood is so thick. After the plain thick-plank chests came the carved chests, the finest of which 10

SIX-LEGGED, SIX-SIDED OAK TABLE. Tudor period. (A t one time in the possession ofS. E. Letts, Esq.) This is a very fine piece. Its most noteworthy features are the thickness of the top, and the angle-wise placing of the heavy struts.

SMALL OAK GATE-LEG TABLE. Jacobean period. {In the possession of Mrs. Wyliie.) This table is chiefly remarkable for the smallness of its size. The pattern of the legs is a good one.

ROUND OAK CLUB-FOOTED TABLE. Early XVIII century. {In the possession of F. Fenn, Esq.) This form of table is common in mahogany, and less usual, though not rare, in oak.

show the Norman arch and sometimes the Tudor rose. Genuine oak chests with the Norman arch and the Tudor rose are not plentiful; and if any reader of this should come across one, I counsel him, or her, to buy it, no matter what its condition.

One of the objects of this book is to try to persuade people to save what little remains of the oldest furniture which still exists in the remote parts of the country, before it is used for firewood. And here let me say generally that the shabbiest, dustiest, greyest looking piece of old oak, may be made quite beautiful. It should first be scrubbed with a good scrubbing brush and hot water and soap, then allowed to get thoroughly dry; and afterwards well rubbed, first with boiled oil, "to feed it," as the carpenters say, and then with good bees-wax and turpentine, to give it a wear resisting surface. Let no one be afraid of the shabbiness of old things, they only want cleaning and rubbing up; they cannot be scratched or warped or blistered, for they are so hard that they will turn the edge of the very best steel tools, and there is no easy way of hurting them short of burning. One reason why so many of these oldest oak pieces have survived until ii now, is that the labour of chopping them up for firewood would have been so great that it has been found easier to gather sticks ! If you chance upon one of these oldest oak chests, with the lid in one piece, and its long wrought-iron hinges, you may feel you have found a prize; if, in addition, it happens to retain its old iron lock, you may know that you have lighted on something dear to the heart of the collector.

Next after the plain or carved chest with the lid in one piece, comes the chest with panels, varying from 3 feet 5 inches to 8 feet long. Those of the smaller size, a little carved and really genuine and ancient, are still very plentiful and very moderate in price. They should be brown in colour, or if nearly black, they should not be a purple black, and the little pip marks in the grain of the oak should be lighter than the surrounding wood; in stained or fumed oak these pip marks are darker than the surrounding wood, because they absorb the stain more readily than the rest of the wood.

It is easy to give directions by which the amateur may know really old oak so far as the wood is concerned. The worst of it is that many fine old oak chests, tables, dressers, etc., 12

SMALL OBLONG OAK TABLE. {In the possession of Mrs. Wyllie.) The dog-tooth carving and the pattern of the turned legs prove this to be a table of an early date. The feet have obviously been cut off at some time.

OAK PRESS. XVI century. {In the possession of Seymour Lucas, Esq., R.A.) This press is a remarkably fine example on account of its untouched condition. The design of the carving is unusually good.

which were genuine, simple and perfectly plain, have been cheaply carved by the sinful antique furniture dealer; and when utterly ruined, they are sold to the inexperienced as old carved oak. Nothing but talent in the first place, and experience in the second, which comes from studying really fine old carving and learning to understand its character and details, will teach the non-expert the difference between these spoilt oak articles and the valuable antique carved treasures. One can only say live and observe and learn.

The longest oak chest I have seen was 8 feet 6 inches in length, decorated all over its panels with the carving, geometrical in pattern and of uniform depth, which looks like fretwork laid on. This chest was called "the hutch" by its owners, who told me it had always been so called and was an old family possession. "Hutch" is a well-known old term for these chests, though one does not often come across it in use nowadays. Quite the most desirable thing in oak chests, is one with what is called " linen-fold" panels. Linen-fold carving was the fashionable thing in Henry VIII.'s time. There is one room in Hampton Court Palace, in the older part, entirely panelled with it, so that any linen-fold

chest probably dates from then or the two or three following reigns. One of the illustrations (Plate 4) shows a very fine chest, which is in the possession of Mr. Seymour Lucas. This is especially interesting because it has its old iron lock on the front, but its original lid appears to have been replaced at some time by the present one, which is slightly too large. This panelling may be found in many country houses. At Coles Park, Buntingford, on the estate of Mr. R. P. Greg, there is an old dower house in which several rooms have this panelling in fine preservation. Another illustration of a " linen-fold " chest (Plate 5) is given because the spandrils are carved, which is rare and curious, though not, I think, admirable. This also is in the possession of Mr. Seymour Lucas.

The most ordinary carved oak chest is one with a little carving along the top spandril just under the lid; if dated, so much the better. Another very common kind, peculiar to Yorkshire and the northern counties, is the plain panelled chest, rather large and high, with two, three, or four drawers under the chest. The illustration (Plate 6) shows one with two drawers. I imagine there must have been some dower-chests made inlaid with

OAK PANELLING FROM SIZERGH CASTLE. Late XVI century. {In South Kensington Museum.) This oak panelling is inlaid with bog-oak and hollywood like some of the oak furniture.

OAK CABINET, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Stuart period. {In the possession of Seymotir Lucas, Esq., R.A.) Though this may be considered an English piece it was probably made by a foreign workman. The lions' heads, carved figures, and the capitals of the columns are un-English, whilst the spiral legs and curved struts are characteristically Stuart.

holly and bog-oak, as there are dressers, beds, and cabinets with that ornamentation, but I have never chanced to see one; nor have I seen an English chest inlaid with mother-of-pearl or decorated with mouldings in what we call the Jacobean style.

The commonest form of oak furniture,— using commonest in its meaning of plentiful— after dower-chests is the gate-leg table, and the club-footed table. The gate-leg table may be of any size. The present writer has one that is so small that it is an ideal sofa table for serving afternoon tea on, and another which is large enough to seat ten people. These are both oval tables of solid oak, with the tops fixed on to the framework by large oak pegs. Illustrations (Plates 7 and 9) of both of these are given in order that the difference in the legs may be pointed out. Those of the large table are spiral legs of considerable beauty, and probably date from Charles I. or Cromwell. These spiral legs are, unluckily, rare; the most usual form being variants on the turned legs of the smaller table. I do not advocate the refusal of any gate-legged table unless it has spiral legs; but what I do say emphatically is, buy any table, however bad its condition, even if only the framework

is left and a new top is necessary, if it has these beautiful spiral legs. Neither of the pieces illustrated possesses a drawer, though one drawer is often met with in such tables. The club-footed table is more attractive to me, personally, than the gate-leg table. It is of a later date and is fairly common in oak, but more common in mahogany; it is generally oval in shape when both leaves are extended, but I have one (Plate 10) which is round. It is the only round oak one I have ever come across. There is a still finer form of club-footed table with high-shouldered (cabriole) legs, which occurs in both oak and mahogany. There are many forms of small tables in oak with one or three drawers. These have turned legs with strengthening rails at the foot (Plate 11); the later ones have cabriole or club-footed legs without the strengthening rails. They are all interesting, but the piece to look for is one with its original brasses. Even if only one of these brasses should remain, it will serve to have copies made from, and the table can thus be made complete. Never make the tasteless mistake of taking off the old handles because they are incomplete; get some good brass worker to make the best copy he can of the 16

CLUB-FOOTED OAK WRITING TABLE, with adjustable slab. {In the possession of F. Fenn, Esq.) This is probably an early attempt at a writing table or desk, before the bureau form was evolved, and might date back to Elizabeth or Henry VIII. The table contains a narrow pen drawer and deep well above, and three lower drawers. The brasses, which are original, are of the engraved type common on Stuart furniture.

ROOM AT LENHAM COURT, KENT. {By permission of Mrs. A. W. Elam.) The settle shown in the illustration has a curious fixed smoker's box.

one that is original, always supposing that it is original, which is most likely to be the case if the set of handles and key plates is not complete.

Large carved oak presses chiefly belong to the North of England and the Lake Country. They are not to be picked up for an old song nowadays, but can generally be bought, if they are especially wished for, for anything from ^"25 upwards. The one illustrated (Plate 12), by kind permission of Mr. Seymour Lucas, is a handsome one of the ordinary form, with characteristic carving, and it is in an unusually untouched condition. Then there are the so-called Jacobean oak chests of drawers, with mouldings put on in patterns, which should have drop brass handles, and are always desirable.

Next we come to inlaid oak. I do not think any one knows who brought the fashion of inlaying into this country, or quite where it dates from. It is certainly later in date than the earliest carving, though it may belong to as early a period as Edward VI., or Elizabeth, judging from the panelled room from Sizergh Castle in the South Kensington Museum (Plate 13), which is inlaid with bog-oak and holly in the characteristic pattern found on d 17

inlaid oak furniture. I have seen two oak bedsteads of exceeding beauty, both inlaid with bog-oak and holly in this manner ; both were also decorated with carving. In fact, carving and inlay in oak seem to have been considered the right thing at one period, and that a very beautiful period.

To come to still more elaborate oak furniture, there are cabinets of the early Stuart period, which were carved and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. These are believed to have been made by Italian workmen, who were brought over to the Eastern counties by one of the numerous patrons of art at that time, as all that have been found have come from that district. This would explain the foreign, or, more strictly speaking, un-English character of these particular pieces, which would otherwise be puzzling. Their workmanship is undoubtedly English, though their feeling is not. The one illustrated (Plate 14) is a specially good one from Mr. Seymour Lucas's collection.

Here, perhaps, mention should be made of a detail to be looked for in early chests of drawers, or tables with drawers in them, namely, what are technically called double runners. These are grooves in the sides of 18

Plate XVII

CARVED OAK FLOUR HUTCH. {At one time i?i the possession of S. E. Letts, Esq.) Plain flour hutches are still to be found in the Eastern counties, but not with carving like that on the one shown in the illustration, which is totally different in character from most other English carving on oak. The origin of the design may have been Scandinavian. It is difficult to assign any date to this piece.

OAK BEDSTEAD at Goodwood House, Sussex. Stuart period. This bedstead is very richly carved, the pillars with enwreathed floral designs, and the tester with characteristic perforated work.

the drawers about halfway up the sides, which run on mouldings in the inside of the chest, thus preventing the drawers from shaking as they pull in and out, and also serving to hold them up when they are pulled out to more than half their length; a precaution which was more necessary then, since the depth, i.e. length from back to front of the drawers, was considerably greater than it is in modern furniture.

In writing of oak furniture, mention must also be made of the carved-oak desk and Bible-box, of which many examples exist all over the country. Strictly speaking, these must be regarded as etcetras, not as furniture. The club-footed oak writing-table (Plate 15), is obviously the outcome of the desk placed upon legs. After this was evolved the bureau, which is one of the most usual as well as most useful pieces of antique furniture of later date. Bureaux, of plain oak, generally with one or more secret drawers, and often with a well, used to be as plentiful as apples in autumn and almost as cheap. This was when writing-tables were the fashion, and before the public taste had revolted from the gentility of early, or rather middle, Victorian furniture. Nowadays one must pay at least

£4 for a good oak bureau, though this is not an extravagant price for an article which is certainly worth £8 on its merits. It is well to reflect that, in spite of the enormous rise in the price of antique furniture, you may still buy a few things for far less than it would cost to reproduce them, even with modern machinery. If you want a piece really reproduced, with the beautiful joinery and careful workmanship accurately copied, you have to pay considerably more, i.e. £10 or £12 for the bureau which you now buy for £4 from a second-hand dealer. Indeed, it is one of the great safeguards against fraud with the commoner pieces of antique furniture, that ordinarily you can buy them for less than cheap reproductions can be made; but very few, if any, genuine antique carved bureaux exist. Only once in all my wanderings have I come across a Jacobean oak bureau with mouldings for ornament.

Besides the articles of oak furniture mentioned above, there were large cupboards, sometimes six feet long, made of panelled oak like the panelling of rooms. I am not sure that they were originally made as cupboards at all; some of them, no doubt, were 20

CARVED OAK BEDSTEAD at Agecroft Hall, Lancashire. Stuart period.

OAK DRESSER, with mouldings as decoration. Jacobean. the possession of E. S. Grew, Esq.)

cupboards built in a panelled room; but most of them, I suspect, were made out of old panelling when it was pulled out of the houses to make way for the plastered walls necessary to hang wall-papers upon. One of the curious things about antique furniture is, that there appear to have been no oak wash-stands or towel-airers. Oak cradles there were, and some of them are quite beautiful and worthy of preservation, just as are the oak kneading-troughs, though there is no longer any possible way of using them, and they should be looked upon as objects for museums rather than furniture to be put into the home.

There remain only the oak settles and oak chairs with which to deal. The oak settle is well-known to most people, and varies very little from the one illustrated (Plate 16), which is a very nice one in the possession of Mrs. Elam at Lenham Court, Kent, who has kindly had it photographed for use here. It is hardly necessary, perhaps, to say that, with plenty of cushions, an oak settle makes a very admirable piece of furniture for a hall or large dining-room. One oak settle, which I saw once, had the whole seat made of plaited strips of leather, about

a quarter of an inch thick and of the same width. It was very curious and remarkably comfortable, the leather giving with the weight of one's body.

Oak chairs will be dealt with in a special chapter devoted to chairs of all periods.

THE KING'S ROOM, Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. The King's Room (so called because Henry VII occupied it in 1487) is in the gateway tower, and is a singularly beautiful example of a domestic interior. The walls have the linen-fold pattern in the panelling, and curious old tapestry above. The fine carved oak bedstead has a coverlet and curtains of green velvet, embroidered with various birds and beasts. This embroidery is said to be the work of Mary, Queen of Scots.

OAK " GRANDFATHER," OR LONG-CASE CLOCK. {At the School of Art Needle-work, South Kensington)

the third chapter

THE WALNUT WOOD PERIOD

EXT after oak came walnut furniture. It is particularly attractive by reason of its beauty and delicacy of workmanship, and for its unforced effects and charm of colour. I shall try to point out the little differences in detail by which the probable period of walnut furniture may be determined, for the study of these details has been a special pleasure to me, and it is perhaps because of them that I find walnutwood furniture so attractive. It was not until I began to acquire pieces, that I became alive to the way furniture had gradually developed from carved oak to inlaid mahogany. One puts down changes in furniture* to fashion and the individual influence of certain makers, when, like most fashions, the change is due more to the bringing into use of a new material than to anything else; for the material controls the fashion and workmanship, not the fashion and workmanship the material.

Thus the bringing into use of saw-cut

pollard walnut-wood veneer threw carved-oak furniture out of fashion. No doubt the beginning of the decline of carving was due to the first workman or master-craftsman who started inlaying oak in patterns with bog-oak and holly woods. There is a very fine example of this style of work in South Kensington Museum, the panelled room from Sizergh Castle, Westmoreland, before referred to; and there are occasional pieces of furniture to be met with with this decoration— such as dressers, oak chests, and oak bedsteads.

In the beginning of furniture making, probably it was not possible to get wood in planks much less than an inch thick, and no one, therefore, thought of inlaying as a form of decoration, and carving was the only course open. Later, when sawing became more of an art, and it was possible to get wood sawn to the astonishingly delicate thinness of an eighth or the sixteenth of an inch, people naturally delighted in the use of the wonderful new thing. I imagine that all thinly sawn wood was cut across the grain at first; that is to say, the trunk of the tree was cut up in rounds from the root to the branches, instead of lengthwise in planks ;

OAK CHEST OF DRAWERS MADE IN TWO PIECES, with veneer of walnut on the front only. Stuart period. the

Possession of F. Fe?m, Esq.) This interesting piece of furniture shows the beginning of the use of veneering, and consequently it is an example of the first step in the departure from carved oak.

EARLY FORM OF CROSS-CUTTING ON STUART CHEST OF DRAWERS (Plate xxiii). This cross-cutting is quite at the outer edge of each drawer, and less elaborate than the feather pattern found on later pieces.

SPECIMEN OF CROSS-CUTTING ON WALNUT "TALLBOY" CHEST OF DRAWERS (Plate xxvii). This cross-cutting- consists of two narrow rows placed together, making a kind of feather pattern some distance from the edge of the drawer.

therefore we have to thank the man who first tried sawing thin rounds of wood off a tree for much of the beautiful furniture that has come down to us. Boxwood is cut across the grain to the present day, and so was all the wood used in inlaying old oak furniture. Having once obtained thin wood of beautiful colour and started glueing it on to oak in patterns, the idea of covering the whole surface of a piece of oak furniture (when finely figured oak was becoming more difficult to obtain) with these thin pieces of walnut wood, soon followed. A modern overworked furniture maker would have produced a quite ugly result in all probability, for he would, in his hurry, hardly have had time to invent one of the chief beauties of walnut-wood furniture, i.e. the accurate matching of the figure of the wood so that the grain makes a beautiful pattern. The wood used on any piece of old walnut furniture always appears to have been taken from the same tree. It is possible to trace the figure growing smaller through the various pieces, but these are always so exquisitely arranged that the pattern is an added charm.

The oldest pieces of walnut wood I have met with have the oak upon which the walnut e 25

is laid showing quite frankly in some parts. For instance, the chest of drawers shown in the illustration (Plate 23), which is a peculiarly beautiful example of walnut wood, is oak at the top and sides flush with the moulding, though the moulding itself is walnut. Another thing that is interesting about this chest is, that it has rounded mouldings between and around the drawers and no moulding on the edge of the drawers themselves. If you want to understand this difference, pull out the drawer of a later piece of furniture, a quite modern chest will do, and you will find that the little moulded finish comes out with the drawer, because it is on the drawer itself and not on the chest, or "carcase" as the workman would call it. I was lucky enough to find most of the old handles and key-hole plates on this chest, all being perfect except for one or two of the handles, which have been carefully copied. In order to prevent the chipping off of the veneer or " facing," the drawers are bordered all round for about half an inch with walnut cut a different way of the wood, like a piece of stuff cut on the cross instead of on the straight; this is called "cross-cutting." In later pieces of walnut furniture you seldom find this at the edge of the drawers, and 26

WALNUT BUREAU, with cabinet top. William and Mary period. {In the possession of Ashby Sterry, Esq.) This bureau has unusually fine mouldings and panelled doors.

WALNUT "TALLBOY" CHEST OF DRAWERS. XVII century, {in the possession of F. Fenn, Esq.) The handles and key plates are original. The slide in the centre is unusual in a walnut chest.

univ oa/f? uinstizea ov hMicrosoft <W

when you do, it is always much less broad, and there is often a double row. As it does not show very clearly in an illustration of a complete piece of furniture, I have had photographs made of the two different kinds of cross-cutting (Plates 24 and 25), one of which occurs on the chest of drawers (Plate 23), which probably dates from James I. By the time of Charles II. the art of furniture making in walnut wood had become so highly finished and elaborate in workmanship that it has never been surpassed; indeed, to my thinking, it has never since been equalled. It was then that the exceedingly fine marqueterie work of boxwood or sycamore inlaid in walnut was made. This is sometimes so delicate that it is more like brush work than anything else, and one marvels afresh every time one sees any of it, at the beauty of both design and workmanship.

To return to this James I. chest, which is so instructive. It is made in two parts, the base or short stand (the part consisting of the three small drawers at the bottom) on which the actual chest of drawers stands, being quite separate from the chest itself. This is very characteristic of Stuart work, and is very familiar in later furniture in

such articles as the cabinets of small drawers enclosed with two doors, often of fine lacquer work. The very finest piece of Stuart furniture I ever saw was a large cabinet of walnut wood, covered with exquisite English marqueterie work, on a walnut-wood stand, which had spiral rails at the bottom of the frame to strengthen it. This was a Charles II. piece.

One more interesting feature of the James I. chest of drawers (Plate 20) remains to be pointed out. I refer to the feet, which, together with the other characteristics, are what make one certain of its early date. They do not show very clearly in the reproduction: their ground-plan is the square block of oak, but they are shaped so that they are smaller at the top, and curved at front and sides. In them, I think, one can just see the beginning of the hoof foot of later date, and also the beginning of the idea which later developed into the claw-and-ball foot. Many claw-and-ball foot chairs of Stuart period have their back legs shaped at the bottom much like the feet of this James I. chest. As an object lesson, this piece of furniture possesses so many features that are illuminative, that I have had to give a considerable amount of 28

SMALL WALNUT BUREAU. Early XVIII century. {In the possession of F. Fenn, Esq.) The mouldings on this piece are on the drawers.

space to it. I only hope I have said enough to induce any one who possesses, or comes upon, any furniture of the same period to do all they can to preserve it untouched if possible; or, if in too bad a condition for that, to call in some expert to put it right, and on no account to let it go to an ordinary furniture man to be repaired or restored, and on no account to have its polish touched. No Stuart furniture, or any made before that period, was French polished, because French polish was not invented until a much later date. The exceedingly beautiful bright polish on walnutwood furniture, the peculiar quality of which is that it retains its absolute transparency and whiteness so that the wood is unchanged after centuries, was obtained by the use of some remarkable varnish, the secret of which has been lost since the invention of French polish; therefore, if a piece of old walnut-wood furniture is French polished, half its value is destroyed for the connoisseur, who knows that without the old varnish the colour of the walnut will certainly change, probably within ten years' time.

Next in beauty and age to the James I. chest (referring only to pieces of which illustrations are given), comes the bureau with cabinet top, which is the property of Mr. Ashby

Sterry (Plate 26). I have seen very many after this pattern, called by the dealers Queen Anne, often, I regret to say, with the doors made hideous by having had looking-glass panels inserted; but Mr. Ashby Sterry s is the earliest and best I have ever yet seen, and I should date it William and Mary. It is difficult to point out from a photographic reproduction why this is so superior to the majority of others, because the differences are so slight, though so all-important to the real lover of old furniture, who can see at once the superiority in the planning of the old work as well as in the workmanship. The one thing is eminently satisfactory to live with, the other produces restlessness and a desire for change—for something else in its place—a feeling which the perfectly planned and made work of the true artist never produces. Think how common it is nowadays for middle-aged, or even young people, to refurnish as soon as they can afford it. Think how the getting rid of most of their household gods seems an absolute necessity which has been only held in check by the spirit of economy: this was a feeling unknown to people in the old days, when they had less furniture perhaps, but each piece was perfect of its kind, and had probably cost as 30

INLAID MAHOGANY SERPENTINE FRONTED SHIELD-SHAPED TOILETTE GLASS. {In the possession of Mrs. Wyllie.) This glass has very delicate uprights, with small turned iron ornaments. It is inlaid with satinwood.

INLAID OAK TOILETTE GLASS, with mirror frame in walnut. Stuart period. {In the possession of F. Fenn, Esq.)

much, or a great deal more, than a whole suite of modern machine-made furniture. The cottager one hundred and fifty years ago paid sterling—when money was worth more than it is now—for his grandfather clock, and had it made for him by the best clockmaker of his county town or nearest large town. How many years of saving and waiting did a grandfather clock represent ? But now there is no saving and no waiting—the rustic or townsman invests in a is. American alarm clock, which is renewed every two or three years, and a £4. 105. suite of furniture, which is kept in an unused parlour, because he knows instinctively that it would stand no wear and tear, and there is no pride of possession. It rests with the middle classes, and the rich tradesmen who have made a sufficiency in business, to say whether good workmanship shall cease in the country or not. If they will have it, and will not mind paying for it, there are still enough of the older men left who have learnt their trades of joinery and cabinet-making from those that have gone before, and who retain, therefore, all the traditions to hand on to teach the younger men what joinery and cabinet-making should be. It would be a much greater thing to save

these traditions of the country, which has produced unquestionably the finest furniture in the world, than to spend large sums in constantly redecorating and refurnishing with the latest production of some well-known firm that makes furniture by the stack for the million. Happily the fashion for covering up ugly walls with pictures, hung so closely that they jostle each other in subject and design, is going out; and a hope may be expressed that the large sums which were formerly spent upon pictures will now be devoted to fostering the art of furniture-making. What is written above may give the impression that I dislike pictures, but that would be entirely wrong. I do not want to live in a room without any pictures at all, any more than I want to live in one that is overloaded with them. Good pictures should be hung separately on the walls, spaced as though the room were panelled, as all rooms should be, and as all rooms were until cheap wall-paper pushed out wooden panelling. With the pictures so hung, the need for a small amount, and a small amount only, of beautiful furniture will make itself felt. In an overcrowded, overcurtained room the furniture is not a feature, and it passes almost unnoticed.

An illustration is given (Plate 27) of a tall chest of drawers in walnut wood, the natural development of the shorter chest on a stand. This chest also is in two pieces, but the lower half is higher, and although no more floor space is taken up, there is more room given for putting things away. Note that this chest has a writing slide, or slide on which to fold clothes; a most convenient shelf, which pulls out at will from among the drawers and forms a table on which to work or place things out of one's hands—a table which is always at hand and always empty, as no ordinary table ever is. The handles on this chest are original, but though a beautiful shape, are without the engraving or punched work of the earlier handles on the first-mentioned chest of drawers.

Pictures of a walnut-wood bureau and knee-hole table (Plates 28 and 29), both charming pieces of later date, are also given. There were beautiful walnut-wood card-tables (there is one in Hampton Court Palace) on club feet, with sunk places for the candlesticks and deeper sunk oval-shaped hollows for the counters or money of the players. That there are no old walnut-wood dining-tables is probably because our practical ancestors did

How To Sell Furniture

How To Sell Furniture

Types Of Furniture To Sell. There are many types of products you can sell. You just need to determine who your target market is and what specific item they want. Or you could sell a couple different ones in a package deal.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment