Tuesday’s diversion was fun but now we have to get back to the serious business of furniture forensics. A few days back we all met the fiche hinge. I stopped by the local high-end antiques shop to have a look around ahead of the incoming snowpocalypse. This shop specializes in imported French and English antiques although they are not above carrying some American antiques to round out their inventory. I looked around and found more fiche hinges than I would have expected. Most of the large French case pieces have the fiche hinge or a variant there of.
To recap, the fiche (plug) hinge is a cylindrical hinge with leaves. In a typical installations the leaves are mortised into the case and the door and pinned in. The upper leaf is mortised into the door and the lower into the case. Often this is a lift off or loose leaf hinge, the halves being held together by gravity. This allows the doors to be lifted off the carcass without tools. There are similar hinges that can be surfaced mounted.
I also ran into a variant using an eye bolt to attach the hinge to the carcass.
The pieces I viewed were dated from 1755 to 1870. None of the two leaf hinges were really vertical. Between the wear on the hinge and the hinge starting to pull out of their mortises, they all lean. I have seen some hinges (like the Whitechapel example above) that have a washer or bearing between the halves. One of the hinges had a taper between the halves making me wonder if they were made to be self closing or just an odd wear pattern. The hinges with the eye bolt seem to fare better.
Click HERE to the the entire set of pictures of hinged and unhinged furniture.