An Auction of Diversity

The auction I’ve been previewing has an a wide variety of furniture genres and origins. Lots of French, some Scottish, English and even American. Some of the French I acknowledge and move on quickly:

It's French and I got over it.

It’s French and I got over it. Further study would be of no use.

Here is a nice row of Large Antique Royal National Lifeboat Institution Lockers. With a name like that, it must be English:

I'm told millennials love these industrial storage units.

I’m told millennials love these industrial storage units.

A 18th Century German Coffer:

Apparently, the Germans made furniture.

Apparently, the Germans made furniture.

With a lidded till on the left and the starts on the outside, finishes on the inside hinge configuration:

Fourth one I've see and they've all been since January.

Fourth one I’ve seen and they’ve all been since January. The rivet seems to be another German thing.

An early 19th century Antique Continental Child’s Potty Chair:

Continental is code from somewhere over there in Europe.

Continental is code from somewhere over there in Europe. Some parts are missing.

With an interesting example advanced of joinery on the back:

A bridle joint.

A pinned bridle joint.

An 18th Century Spanish Colonial Tooled Leather Trunk:

Grey leather.

Grey leather, very classy.

And showing examples of interesting construction details, a reverse view of the built up moldings:

Made from three parts.

Made from three parts.

From this familiar secrétaire à abattant:

In your heart, you know it's French.

In your heart, you know it’s French.

If you are interested of just have too much free time, you can see the rest of the album HERE.

Big Ol’ Foreign Furniture

I thought I would feature three interesting larger pieces of foreign furniture before posting the entire auction. Just trying to slow down the torrid pace of the blog.

First up is this early 19th century Scottish Tall Chest of Drawers:

Interesting mix of styles and decoration.

Interesting mix of styles and decoration.

First of all, it has great knobs:

Looks like some ivory inlay. I mean "bone" inlay.

Looks like some ivory inlay. I mean “bone” inlay.

The second drawer has an interesting covered section:

Lid slides back.

Lid slides back.

I’ve had an interest in dovetails but have become more interested in dovetailed drawers with thicker or curved profiles:

This is ordinary but I will have more interesting ones in the near future.

This is ordinary but I will show more interesting ones in the near future.

The French make some really big things. I’m sure others did as well,  but not as many as the French:

Big freakin' armoire. How French!

Big freakin’ armoire. How French!

We won’t deal with this piece in the blog. Too big.

In its stead, we will be looking at two secrétaire à abattant. Fall front secretaries for the non-francophones.

First, the Napoleon III Boulle Inlaid Secretaire Abattant:

Can you tell it's French?

Can you tell it’s French? 

Boulle: (noun) elaborate inlaid work of woods, metals, tortoiseshell, ivory, etc.

Top three drawers are actually the abattant part:

kasksak

abattant m ‎(feminine singular abattante, masculine plural abattants, feminine plural abattantes) flat and articulated so it can move from a horizontal to a vertical position

With a very attractive lock:

Everything gets decorated.

Everything gets decorated.

And the bolt face:

And it works.

And it works.

You knew there would be dovetails:

Unusually nice and refined.

Unusually nice and refined. Oak as a secondary wood.

The next one is the Louis Phillippe Fine Secretaire Abattant:

Even bigger.

Even bigger.

And abattant part:

Original chain?

Original chain?

Could these be the feet?

There are four.

There are four.

Very attractive hardware:

The escutcheon from the drop panel. Key is rather plain.

The escutcheon from the drop panel. Key is rather plain.

The drawers have a different escutcheon.

The drawers have a different escutcheon.

Add a simple bail and you can open the drawers.

Add a simple bail pull and you can open the drawers.

Drawers are differently decorated as well:

Center drawer is a relatively simply inlaid pattern.

Center drawer is a relatively simply inlaid pattern.

Outer drawers have more flowers and colors.

Outer drawers have more flowers and colors.

And then there’s this medallion and molding applied front and center:

Simple yet tasteful.

Simple yet tasteful.

Another dovetail of interest. This dovetail detail at the back of a drawer is seen (by me) only in French furniture:

Tails look like they were cut for thicker stock.

Tails look like they were cut for thicker stock.

One does wonder why. Now open for discussion.

More Covert Than Secret

I’m down to only 10-12 thousand unposted furniture pictures so I have to get as many posts as I can from what few events I have left. This is the second post from an auction last week. There will be more.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might have noticed I have a fondness for hidden and secret compartments. I approach any desk thinking there must be one (or more) yet to be found. Not every desk has one but more than you think do.

I saw this Sheraton Cherry Schoolmaster’s Desk (their description):

Sheraton? Well, they are professionals.

Sheraton? Well, they are professionals.

Lift the lid to see the gallery:

Five drawers and a few suspicious spaces.

Five drawers and a few suspicious spaces.

Why is there a blank space under the outer drawers?

There is a drawer and a blank space beneath.

There is a drawer and a blank space beneath.

Remove the drawer to see what you can see:

A large open space with groves up either side of the frame.

A large open space with groves up either side of the frame.

An open space, groves and a panel means something must move:

The panel slides up revealing more storage.

The panel slides up revealing more storage.

The three center drawers wouldn’t open. They can open, I just couldn’t find the release mechanism. I even unscrewed a loose screw from the top. I grew frustrated and moved on.

I came across the English Campaign Style Desk Top Secretary:

A smaller version of one I have. (Humble brag.)

A smaller version of one I have. (Humble brag alert.)

A rather simple interior arrangement:

No calendar and fewer slots than most. There is a drawer low on the front.

No calendar and fewer slots than most. There is a drawer low on the front. Holding hardware on the doors is missing.

This is mine or at least one of them.

Mine has more stuff.

Mine is bigger has more stuff.

I noticed something interesting about the hinges on the left door:

There are three large hinges and one hinge made from two smaller hinges.

There are three large hinges and one hinge made from two smaller hinges on the upper left. Somebody forgot to order enough large hinges?

There was one thing missing. Most all boxes like this and writing slopes have storage or a release mechanism under the pen tray like this:

Storage under the pen tray. Often there is a release mechanism for another hidden compartment.

Storage under the pen tray. Often there is a release mechanism for another hidden compartment.

I couldn’t find this one either an moved on, again.

All was well until I came to the French/Chinoiserie corner:

This stopped me.

This stopped me.

I lost the will to go on. I’m not sure why but I was just drained of energy and in deep despair. I walked away a defeated man.

The change in scenery helped. Slowly my energy and will to live came back.

I sought out the Sheraton desk for a second try at opening the three drawers. I looked and felt everywhere. Then I found a hole under the lower drawer. I inserted a finger into the hole and pushed. Success. The drawer came out. There was a wood spring on the bottom the drawer that I had released:

The spring beneath the drawer.

The spring beneath the drawer.

And the slot and hole in the dust panel under the drawer:

That's how it works!

That’s how it works!

And the other drawers as well:

The same system for all three drawers although only two are shown.

The same system for all three drawers although only two are shown.

Flush from my success, I went back to the desk top secretary to see if I could find the secret compartment. I pushed and pulled gently for a while. Finally the secretary yielded it’s secret:

The secret was that there was no secret compartment just a glue failure.

The secret was that there was no secret compartment. Just a glue failure.

Live and learn.

 

 

 

Another Interesting Auction Find I Didn’t Buy

As soon as I walked into the auction house, I knew it wasn’t one of their catalog auctions. The junior auctioneer was wearing a pink sports coat. The coat might have been salmon 2, light coral or blush. The hall has several different light sources mixed in an arbitrary fashion. Without knowing the CRI (Color Rendering Index), it’s hard to be sure what the color actually was.

But I digress…

And not for the first time!

I only mention this because that for the major/catalog sales, he wears a dark suit. That, and there was no catalog. The next catalog auction is June 18th. I’ll be there.

That doesn’t mean that there weren’t good things there, just less of them. Just more less fabulous things. Possibly things that haven’t sold last time out. And for the first time I can remember, box lots.

One of the interesting pieces was what they called an antique continental diminutive blanket chest:

I can believe it is antique and a blanket chest. Definitely diminutive. Continental, I don't know.

I can believe it is antique and a blanket chest. Definitely diminutive. Continental, I don’t know.

Great lock:

No mention of a key.

No mention of a key.

The hinges have been replaced:

But not recently.

But not recently.

At some point, it was lined with newspaper:

Early recycling?

Early recycling?

The wood has moved a bit over the years:

Hard to keep a good board flat.

Hard to keep a good board flat.

And it’s old enough to be pegged:

Not nailed, pegged. With wooden pegs.

Not nailed, pegged. With wooden pegs.

More on this auction tomorrow.

The Answer or At Least An Answer.

When last we spoke, I was threatening to disclose the function of the slots on the top of J. V. Hammond explosive boxes.

Slots! WHy?

Slots! Why?

The answer can be found in US Patent #2278850 dated April 7th, 1942. The patent was filed February 20th, 1940. It took two years to approve the patent for a wooden box…

I found this patent number on the side of the large box:

There's a patent number there.

There’s a patent number there.

This patent number was not on the previously posted picture of the box because I removed it to stretch the blog out for another week and to look smarter than I really am. The patent explains it thusly:

Formed in the top wall, substantially medially of its width and extending the major portion of its depth, is a dove-tail shaped guide slot.The guide slot communicates with the forward edge of the wall and slidably receives a guide.element which is formed on the under side of a latch member, said latch member being of substantially rectangular shape in cross section and being of a length substantially the same as the depth of the complete dynamite box. As will be seen by referring to Figure 2, the guide element terminates short of the forward end of the latch member a distance equal to the thickness of the front closure presently to be described in more detail.

In order normally to urge the latch member forwardly, I provide a rubber band.

The patent drawings look something like this:

This makes it clear.

This makes it clear.

In reality, it looks like this:

A rubber band what slides the latch closed.

A rubber band what slides the latch closed.

And this:

Showing the latch action.

Showing the latch action. I had to build the latch.

When the lid is opened, the latch slides back out-of-the-way:

The lid holds the latch out of the way.

The lid holds the latch back.

Close the lid, and the latch is automatically returns to the locked position:

Powered by a single rubber band.

Powered by a single rubber band.

The patent reveals that the box was designed to not fall apart (dovetails), be made without any metal parts (pegs) and to latch automatically (rubber band), all good things when your intent is to carry explosives into a dangerous environment. You can read the patent HERE.

Hammond built their box in several sizes sharing the same basic construction:

Still looking for more sizes to fill out the collection.

Image borrowed from an online auction site. Used without permission because this is the internet.

Reader Jeff Kester described the latch in a comment earlier in the week. I just found and approved his comment five minutes ago. I’m not sure how that happened…

I am looking for a catalog or manual so I can order some appropriate replacement parts. Let me know if you have one.

Bigger Is Bigger.

I first introduced y’all to the blasting caps box in What Followed Me Home:

The first image I published.

The first image I published.

The I celebrated when I found its long lost twin (sibling, at least) on eBay in Almost the Same:

Then there were two,

Then there were two.

Now, I found the big brother, once again on eBay:

It's bigger.

It’s bigger.

How big is it?

Lots.

Big. 21″ by 9.5″ by 10″.

Same construction:

Same idea, different size.

Same idea, different size.

Familiar back view:

This box has a waxy coating.

This box has a waxy coating.

Even the handle is the same:

Same over-cut dovetailed groves.

Same over-cut dovetailed groves.

This one has writing on the side:

You can learn a lot by reading. Assuming you can read.

You can learn a lot by reading. Assuming you can read.

The box was made by the J. V. Hammond Company of Spangler, PA. after 1963. We all know that Zip Codes were launched July 1, 1963 as lynch pin of the Zone Improvement Plan Code. And it was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Mines.

I found this similar box in Winston Salem, NC:

It's not the same.

It’s not the same.

It’s plywood, nailed together with no sliding door.

Next:

Why the groves.

Why the slots?

A Mixed Weekend

I found myself in Norcross, GA on Friday morning listening to Ron Herman’s nth recitation of his Understanding Wood lecture of the year. I drove down to the Atlanta area the night before for my second and last visit to The Woodworking Shows for 2016. It was a chance to see Glen and Chuck again, visit Highland Woodworking, a big new Rockler store and a reasonable Woodcraft. Also in Norcross, I can see the Peachtree Woodworking Supply’s large area on the show floor and drive over to their retail store as well. They are getting better but don’t hold out for Lie-Nielsen just yet.

Prof. Herman spent a quick three hours explaining and demonstrating many useful and interesting characteristics of wood. After his seminar, I decided to sell all my woodworking equipment and get a 3-D printer. Wood is…, well…, challenging. But I knew that.

As regular readers might expect, I scheduled some time to visit some local antiques dealers. I have been visiting Atlanta for years and have a few places I try to get to regularly. I haven’t been down this way since 2013 and had forgotten the name of one of my favorites. It is the shop I saw my first (and favorite) Kentucky/Tennessee sugar chest:

You never gorget your first.I didn't by it.  Just lusted after it in my heart. (an obscureGeorgia reference.)

You never forget your first. I didn’t buy it. Just lusted after it in my heart. (An obscure Georgia reference.)

It’s also where I found this unusual (first in my collection) dovetailed box:

Every vertical joint is dovetailed.

I bought it.

Every vertical joint is dovetailed. Outside corners are full blind dovetails. Inside corners are normal(?) dovetails. See more pictures HERE.

I couldn’t remember the name of the shop. I knew roughly where it was and was depending on the geotagged iPhone pictures to find it. I found one of the pictures and examined the location information to find it on a map. I then switched over to a satellite view to confirm the location. What I saw was not good:

Construction. Never a good sign.

Construction. Never a good sign.

Seems the Historic Roswell Antique Market is becoming/has become Fulton County’s newest elementary school. I needed to find a new place to explore.  I am always up to the task. A new place means new inventory, so to speak. Believe it or not, most antiques shops do not have 100% inventory turnover.

I spent some time with Google and Yelp and located a likely place way up in Alpharetta. Traffic in the Atlanta area weekdays doesn’t move easily so it took a while to get there. It didn’t have the same quality of inventory as the Roswell store but it is still open.

I found this familiar looking piece right away:

Displaced and awaiting it rightful return to a tastefully arranged stack of  Architectural Digests.

Displaced and awaiting it rightful return to a tastefully arranged stack of Architectural Digests.

Most interesting was this set of Windsor chair variants:

They come in green.

They come in green.

And black.

And black.

Aside for the unique form, what makes them interesting is that they are metal. Legs, arms and spindles are hollow. Seat seems to be 14 to 16 gauge steel.

I didn’t think much about them being painted. This mall had lots of painted furniture. A shabby chic nirvana of sorts. There were two dealers selling different brands of pastel chalk paints.

I will examine more of the mall’s selection in upcoming blogs.

A Brief Journey Back to the Good Stuff.

Back in October of 2013, driving back from Woodworking in America, I stopped at an antiques mall on the east side of Cincinnati. Two thirds of the mall’s merchandise was close to what we can politely call flea market grade. Maybe a little better, but not much.

Being the ever-intrepid explorer, I continued exploring where a lesser person (a more rational person?) might have moved on. Up a ramp in the back I discovered a room full of high-end antiques. I was confused but got over it and set to work exploring them. I wrote about the visit in a January 2014 blog entitled Secrets of Cincinnati Revealed.

There was this desk:

A nice desk.

A nice desk.

With this gallery:

Nice gallery.

Nice gallery.

With this pullout prospect:

Didn't see that coming.

Didn’t see that coming.

And hidden drawers around back:

I like drawers.

Nice drawers though the pulls are a bit primitive. But original.

While in the area back in March of this year, I had scheduled some time to explore. I drove around a bit checking some new and different dealers. Then I drove up on an old and familiar place. I had forgotten the name and address of the shop but the sight of the store brought it all back to me. I wandered through knowing all would be well once I got back to the back room.

I got to the back room and all was gone. The good stuff had been replaced by some vintage mid-century modern items. I looked around a bit more in vain. It was all gone.

After a few moments of doubt and indecision, I walked up to the counter to ask if they knew where it all went. I had my doubts not knowing when and under what terms the dealer left and how the lady at the desk felt about it. I got to the desk and asked about the furniture that had been up the ramp. The lady looked at me, smiled and said something to the effect of “Oh, you’re looking for the good furniture.” Then she told me why they left and where they left to. At least the polite version.

I drove over there and found them around back exactly where she said they would be. I walked in and was treated to a great selection of quality antiques and friendly dealers. We talked a bit. They went back to their business and went about mine.

I saw a few pieces left over from their previous location like this book shelf on desk:

I has a new home. I would buy it if I had the cash, a truck and a place to put it.

It has a new home. I would buy it if I had the cash, a truck and a place to put it.

WIth fancy dovetailed bracket feet.

With fancy dovetailed bracket feet.

A nice chest on chest:

Above average.

Above average.

And this table:

A bit splayed but it's a look.

A bit splayed but it’s a look.

And lots of new stuff:

New for an antique.

New for an antique.

And two sewing tables:

With a fabric sewing drawer.

With a fabric sewing drawer.

Or a hard sewing drawer.

Or a hard sewing drawer.

To see all 108 photos, click HERE.

Clarity

See, this blogger walks into a small antiques shop. Nothing special. Nice stuff but nothing there that’s blog fodder. He is about to leave when he spots an interesting looking wooden box. He looks at it thinks it might be one for the collection. The spring latch yields allowing the box to open. Inside are a few sheets of crumpled packing paper. The paper is extracted and below is a smaller, homely footed box.

The vessel and its purloined contents.

The vessel and its purloined contents.

He assumed that it had been place there by someone hoping to get the smaller box out of the shop unnoticed. An attempt to smuggle it out and make it disappear.

As he walked out of the shop, it occurred to him it was probably the dealer.

The Settles of Chadds Ford

Our trip north for Easter allowed me to visit my favorite settles at an antiques shop in Chadds Ford, PA. This shop has an excellent collection of better antiques. Not the over the top expensive trophies but good, quality corner cabinets, chests, seating and much of the furniture I covet.

This visit gave me a chance to examine one of the most intriguing settles of which I am aware. It was finally moved to a location where I could almost photograph it. It looks something like this:

A very tall settle.

A very tall settle. Notice the asymmetry.

What makes it more interesting than most is the reverse side:

You can't really call it the back.

You can’t really call it the back.

This is the first and only cupboard/settle I’ve ever seen. Not exactly in the Crate & Barrel catalog.

A few more detail pictures to give you a feel for this settle:

Curved molding around the top.

Curved molding around the top.

A view of the seat.

A view of the seat.

The notched side:

Makes me wonder if this settle lived  under a set of stairs.

Makes me wonder if this settle lived under a set of stairs.

There is also this more conventional settle:

If there is a conventional settle. Decorated for another holiday.

If there is a conventional settle. Decorated for another holiday.

Handsome from this angle as well.

Handsome from this angle as well.

And a top view:

If there are dovetails, I will find them...

If there are dovetails, I will find them…

There is other seating there that is not settles, like this church-like pew:

Pew or bench? You decide.

Pew or bench? You decide.

Another antique birdcage chair:

Still fairly rare.

Still fairly rare.

With  its through mortise and tenon joint.

With its through mortise and tenon joint.

And for all you anarchists:

Just like in the book.

Just like in the book.

I’m not just sure which book…

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