No, What Is It Really?

Craving adventure and a need to explore the unknown, I went over to Raleigh Friday morning for an Antiques Extravaganza. Wandering around, I found a dealer with tools for sale. Antiques and tools, could it get any better? I did something unusual and actually bought something.

What I bought was billed as a veneer thickness gauge. It is made from wood and brass and looks something like this:

Handsome piece, isn't it?

Handsome piece, isn’t it?

It is a tool, attractive and didn’t cost much. Perfect. That is until I got home and started examining the gauge. The description doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny. The slots on the lower half are all around 1/16″. The slots in the upper half also seem to be of similar widths that bear no obvious correlation to the markings.

And then there are the markings. What veneer is dimensioned from 0.25 to 8? I thought the marks might be marking off 1/4″ increments.

At 6", the marks seem close.

At 6″, the marks seem close.

6″ is close to the 6 mark. But not the 5, 4, 3 or 2. Then I noticed the tick marks are uniformly spaced but the numbers below 6 are marked in quarters, X.25, X.50, X.75. Above 6 only X.50.

That's just unusual.

That’s just unusual.

The tick marks are 1.5% out of horizontal and about 0.35″ (8.89 mm) apart. The wood doesn’t really look old.

What does it measure? Is is just an old brass strip added to new wood? And what did the brass strip come from?

So, what is it really?

Some Things Are Not as They Seem While Others Have Labels

A few months back I had one of those very long antiquing days. When I am driving somewhere, I try to plans the drive to maximize the number of antique shops and museums. I started the day with a 90 minute drive to my favorite four acre antique shop. Many of the painted chests from this shop were covered in the 172 pictures in a PREVIOUS BLOG.

Then a mile down to an always interesting auction house. And a drive to Stantonsburg only to discover most of the good shops are closed on Wednesday. Who knew? Next was a drive south hitting every promising antiques shop until I ran out of time in Lumberton, NC at 6:00 PM. I did visit lots of dealers and took too many pictures.

And now I’m going to share.

First amazing piece it this attractive chest of drawers:

Looks like three drawers.

Looks like three drawers.

that doesn’t have any drawers.

The hinge tells me it is a chest with faux drawer fronts.

The hinge tells me it is a chest with faux drawer fronts.

Ever see a chest you really like but aren’t sure what the primary wood is?

Nice chest. What is it?

Nice chest. What is it?

Just look in the drawers.

"All exposed structural parts and plywood faces..."

“All exposed structural parts and plywood faces…”

I do have a fondness for painted armoires. This one is no exception.

I don't always like painted furniture, but when I do, I look at armoires.

I don’t always like painted furniture, but when I do, I look at armoires.

It has some very nice details on the door.

An 1806 still life.

An 1806 still life.

I really liked this piece but no place to put it and no patience for sitting through an auction watching people buying stuff I don’t care about.

Nice piece that went home with someone else.

Nice piece that went home with someone else.

And the last preview is my favorite lock.

One lock, two drawers. And it's French, typically.

One lock, two drawers. And it’s French, typically.

For those new to this lock, the lock has two bolts. One is high and goes to the right. The other bolt is low and goes to the left. Both drawers have appropriate mortises for the bolts. This lets you lock two drawers with one lock.

I really want one of those locks. If anyone knows the name of this lock or where to buy one, I would be forever in your debt if you shared.

To see more of these and lots of interesting things (bellflowers), click HERE.

A Small Taste of Winterthur

Living in Kennett Square, PA my wife and I were spoiled. The magnificent Longwood Gardens became a place that we could get a quick dinner and take a long walk all summer. Henry Francis du Pont’s Winterthur was where we took our Sunday morning walks. We were members of both places and visited them both as often as we could. No house guest could avoid a trip and no one ever complained. Both have Yuletide displays that we have visited at least 18 times in the past 21 years.

Both are former du Pont estates that have become non-profits to allow the public to come and see what these families had built and loved. And if you can avoid some taxes, that’s nice too.

There are two other du Pont properties of note in the area, The Hagley, E.I. du Pont’s orignal gunpowder mill and mansion that now also houses a research library and the Nemours Mansion and Gardens, a 300 acre estate with formal gardens and a classical French mansion. Also on the property is the renowned Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. A really good use of their money.

But we’re here to talk about Winterthur, Henry Francis du Pont’s obsession. As copied from their website we learn: Founded by Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the premier museum of American decorative arts, reflecting both early America and the du Pont family’s life here. Its 60-acre naturalistic garden is among the country’s best, and its research library serves scholars from around the world. We invite you to visit and explore this place of beauty, history, and learning.

The largest portion of the museum is the over 170 period room displays featuring over 85,000 objects. Mr. du Pont collected primarily Americana from 1640 to 1860. Period rooms are only available through one of their several standard tours or by arranging a private special interest tour.

A small view of one of the 175 period rooms.

A small view of one of the 175 period rooms.

In the 1990′s they built a more formal museum that features permanent and rotating displays. Much to my dismay, they are now featuring the Costumes of Downton Abbey. That ain’t Americana although it might be good business.

On the second floor of the museum is reconstructions of the Dominy clock and woodworking shops used by the Dominy family’s four generations of craftsmen working in East Hampton, New York, from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s.

One view of the Dominy woodworking shop.

One view of the Dominy woodworking shop.

Chris Schwarz (Popular Woodworking, Lost Art Press, Goetta Illustrated) wrote a blog about the Dominy workbench back in 2007.

The first floor displays highlights of the collections including furniture, glass, ceramics and textiles. When I was there last they were displaying some of Philadelphia’s finest.

IMG_9528

To view a small portion of the Winterthur collection, click HERE.

If you are in the area (north of Wilmington, DE and west of Philadelphia) you might also consider the Brandywine River Museum. It is: Renowned for its holdings of the Wyeth family of artists, the museum features galleries dedicated to the work of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. And others. (I stole this, too.)

Gallery 774 – Luce Center Visible Storage

Much to my surprise, most people have not been to New York City. I think a lot of people (me) just assume that others have had similar life experiences, been where we’ve been and know what we know. I am finding out that this is not true. Most people have not been to New York City. Or Saint Petersburg. Or Singapore. Or South Padre Island.

Knowing this, it is incumbent upon me to share what I have seen and learned. Noblesse oblige.

Gallery 774 – Luce Center Visible Storage
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an amazing place. To cut and paste from their site: The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art is a visible-storage facility that displays more than ten thousand works of American fine and decorative art.

It is a large gallery with row after row of display cases filled with treasures in a rather high density display setting. And everything is under glass. Or behind it. Like most museums, The Met (we sophisticates call it “The Met”) has more in it’s collections than it can display. Even a place as big as The Met. Visible Storage gives us a chance to see another 10,000 items from their American fine and decorative arts collection. And that ain’t bad.

Being as my time was not infinite, I focused mainly on the furniture. There is an amazing assortment of furniture in there. From the fancy:

Fancy enough for you, Chuck?

Fancy enough for you, Chuck?

to some primitives:

A nice wall box.

A nice wall box.

And they have clocks:

These are just some of the case clocks.

These are just some of the case clocks.

A piece I stared at for quite a while was this exploded chest:

Exploded to allow you study the joinery.

Exploded to allow you study the joinery.

And that's how you make a blind dovetail.

And that’s how you make a blind dovetail.

Click HERE to see the Visible Storage.

The one annoying thing was that it was all behind glass. This made photography more challenging, all those reflections and all that glare. I didn’t think to buy a polarizing filter for my Canon G11. I was told that there was a person that opens the display cases for bloggers but she was off Mondays.

A Shout-Out to the French

It might seem odd to bring up the French on Independence Day, but as all serious students of history know, we might not have become independent with out their help. Some say* that the French did not love us as much as they hated the British, but then again, it’s not clear that America’s motives have always been pure.

To honor the French, I am posting the five best blogs (my call) with significant French content. First up is:

You learn something new every day where we first met the fiche hinge.

Fiche hinge. Image pilfered from Whitechapel Ltd. Click on the image to see the blog.

Fiche hinge. Image pilfered from Whitechapel Ltd. Click on the image to see the blog.

Next is:

And now we resume our regularly scheduled progamming… where we examine fiche hinge variants.

Interior view.Click to read the blog.

Interior view. Click to read the blog.

Who can forget:

I know I’ve said this before but this is weird, the odd armoire that divides in half, left to right?

One big happy armoire. It might have been given the shabby chic treatment or been white from the factory. Click to revisit this blog.

One big happy armoire. It might have been given the shabby chic treatment or been white from the factory. Click to revisit this blog.

Another favorite of mine is:

It’s a French Thing, a few French pieces from my favorite consignment shop.

There be carvings. Every where. Click the image to view the blog.

There be carvings. Every where. Click the image to view the blog.

And finally:

And Now, the French Content, the French furniture from Denham Springs, LA.

A typical French clock. Click and read. If you want to.

A typical French clock. Click and read. If you want to.

*I love this phrase. It allows me to disavow any moronic thing I may write. I never said that, they did. You know, some people…

Revisiting Old Friends

Chris Schwarz in a recent Popular Woodworking blog (not to be confused with the Lost Art Press blog) writes about metal planing stops. These are devices on workbenches keeps a board in place while it is being planed. The worker planes into the stop and the metal teeth on the stop keeps the board from moving laterally. The metal planing stop on the workbench I found in Denham Springs (and Mr. Schwarz mentioned in the blog) looks something like this:

Teeth meant to hold wood. Seriously.

Teeth meant to hold wood. Seriously.

This was the bench I saw in Denham Springs on my recent trip to Baton Rouge. The town had a pile of antiques dealers and I photographed many of those. And the bench looked something like this:

There is a bench in that pile, really.

There is a bench in that pile, really.

And it’s a knock down bench:

Some of them parts come out allowing disassembly and easy transport.

Some of them parts come out allowing disassembly and easy transport.

THIS is a set of all the pictures I have of this bench.

Denham Spring had a wide assortment of dealers and inventory. Since we are revisiting the bench, we might as well go back and visit the whole Denham Springs blog and photo set.

To just see the pictures, click HERE

To go back and experience the blog, click HERE.

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That…

You might not know this but I try to get out and look at antiques every once in a while. I visit a fair number of shops and auctions in a given week. Not every shop or auction has enough content for its own set or blog. I accumulate the important stuff and share them when I think I have enough to make it interesting. This is one of those blogs. Lots of interesting furniture with no common thread.

To tempt you in I offer this decorated table:

Decorated table.

Decorated table.

with its own unique take on bellflowers:

IMG_4556

And this dressing mirror:

IMG_4573

with some unexpected inlay:

Not what I expected.

Not what I expected.

Or this carved table:

We might have seen this before.

We might have seen this before.

with an interesting pull:

Does he look familiar?

Does he look familiar?

Here we have a Eastlake’esque -ish type secretary:

It's genuine oak!

It’s genuine oak!

I haven’t forgotten the painted chest fans:

It's a chest and it's painted.

It’s a chest and it’s painted.

Click HERE to see the entire accumulated set.

Big stuff coming in the next week or so. I’ve been traveling.

A Tale of Three Desks

On a visit to Ralleigh in May for a Triangle Woodworkers Association monthly meeting, I visited my favorite consignment furniture store. It did not disappoint being filled with lots of news inventory for me to examine and share. Three desks stood out to me as being especially worthy of exploration.

First up is a large carved desk. Not much storage but lots of carved details.

We believe that the top covering had been leather but is now felt paper.

We believe that the top covering had been leather but is now felt paper.

A carved sphere on each leg.

A carved sphere on each leg.

A leaf on a scroll?

A leaf on a scroll?

Even the stretchers get their own treatment.

Even the stretchers get their own treatment.

Next is this attractive yet fairly conventional slant front desk.

Nice desk. Hardware is a bit much.

Nice desk. Hardware is a bit much.

With a nice but rather conventional gallery.

No door or drawers behind a drawer.

No door or drawers behind a drawer.

Only thing is the sliding door that allow access to a storage compartment below the gallery and above the drawers.

You can't call it a secret compartment. As soon as you open the desk, you immediately see the access door.

You can’t call it a secret compartment. As soon as you open the desk, you immediately see the access door.

If you look at the original picture, you can see the drawer that usually lives between the lopers (lid support) is missing.

The last desk is this ornately carved fall front desk.

A bit fancy for me. Hard to dust.

A bit fancy for me. Hard to dust.

It too has a missing drawer between the lopers.

Where's the drawer?

Where’s the drawer?

When you look in the gallery, you can’t see any obvious access to the storage compartment.

Desk_05

Until you find the sliding board in the floor of the gallery.

Sliding board allows access. This might qualify as a true secret compartment.

Sliding board allows access. This might qualify as a true secret compartment.

And in this desk, the lopers are actually small drawers.

A loper and a drawer. Makes good sense to me.

A loper and a drawer. Makes good sense to me.

Click HERE to see more pictures of the desks and the rest of the furniture at this shop.

As Baton Rouge Fades Slowly Into the Sunset…

All good things must come to an end and the time came for me to leave Baton Rouge and head home. But before I did, I found a few places to stop and take furniture pictures. Not all of them were in Baton Rouge. I did find a high-end antiques shop in Baton Rouge. They had a very nice assortment of better furniture. It was a very bright day, their showroom was very dark with big windows. Photography was… challenging. Some images were lost. But enough survived to make the trip worth it.

Here is a rather unique server:

Interestingly carved gallery and legs. Click to see a closeup of a leg.

Interestingly carved gallery and legs. Click to see a closeup of a leg.

Then off to Houston stopping by Lumberton, TX. They have a great tool store and a few interesting antiques dealers. There, I found some notable furniture:

Not all that old, but I like it. My blog, my rules.

Not all that old, but I like it. My blog, my rules.

And lots of tools:

This one would have followed me home but the price tag was missing and they couldn't find the dealer. Some things were just not meant to be.

This one would have followed me home but the price tag was missing and they couldn’t find the dealer. Some things were just not meant to be.

I spent most of my day in Houston at Bayou Bend and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. There were many fine and worthy antiques shops in Houston but after experiencing morning rush hours, I decided to get out of Dodge (er, Houston) before experiencing the PM version. I did take time to visit one architectural salvage dealer and one good consignment shop. Not much for this blog at the salvage place but a few items at the consignment shop met the requirements.

There was this server:

Many might consider it Eastlake'esque. I do.

Many might consider it Eastlake’esque. I do.

And this American Empire style server:

Note the width of the center drawer. Linen drawer?

Note the width of the center drawer. Linen drawer?

With a little luck, I’ll be back there in the near future.

To see the entire tri-city set, click HERE.

About Yesterday’s Post…

After a few insistent e-mails in the past 24 hours, I believe I need to make a few corrections and clarifications pertaining to yesterday’s blog post. Nothing major. It’s just that there are those who believe that I may have misled some and left a few others with the wrong impression of how events transpired.

I never actually got to meet Chris Schwarz. On Wednesday, he made a few introductory remarks. Then Thursday afternoon he did an interesting presentation on campaign furniture. Chris did maintain office hours but most of the teaching was done by adjunct faculty in the person of Willard (Bill) Anderson. Chris spent most of the time either working with Roy on his reality show or hatching book deals.

Megan Fitzpatrick did not reject all my story ideas. I never actually presented her any ideas to reject. Those who have not met her do not appreciate what a truly imposing presence she possesses. I would see her in the dining hall but she was always in the faculty dining area. The one time I shared an elevator with her she was in the middle of a tele-editorial meeting that I didn’t want to interrupt.

The project I wanted to pitch was based on an IKEA STORNÄS buffet but built with solid walnut, cockbeading, hand-cut dovetails and fewer knock-down fasteners. A real potential crowd pleaser, I believe.

IKEA STORNÄS buffet. Imagine it made with walnut and a few period details like bracket feet.

IKEA STORNÄS buffet. Imagine it made with walnut and a few period details like bracket feet.

If there is enough interest, I might publish it on my own.

So, you see, I did get a few details wrong initially. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it misleading but mistakes were made. I corrected most of of them here. I hope this stops the e-mails and phone calls for now. The record stands corrected and I can sleep well at night.

Or, at least that’s how I remember it.

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