Today’s parable of the movement of wood concerns this George III Linen Press:

dsc_5509

This lot has sold for $380. Furniture is soft right now.

Description:  Circa 1800, two-part form, high-grade burlwood mahogany veneers, mahogany, pine secondary, applied arched cornice with ebonized line inlay above a vertically veneered frieze, upper cabinet with two hinged doors, center with an applied reeded brass mount, each door featuring a rectangular panel with an inset square to each corner, interior with four pull-out linen drawers, base with two over two graduated cockbeaded drawers, raised on French bracket feet with a shaped skirt. (Thus sayeth the auction house.)

The maker of this press made an interesting choice when they made the doors. A large, wide board would have been a bad idea. The wide board would move and be highly unlikely to stay flat. A four-panel board would have been a common construction for a press in that era. Or any era. What is unusual is that they veneered over a four-panel door. A bad idea:

dsc_5506

Just asking for trouble. And they got it.

dsc_5507

They veneered the inside as well. Also a bad idea.

If you have ever read about, seen a video about or (God forbid) actually made a panelled door, you know that if you are using real wood for the panel, you don’t glue the panel to the frame. With our 20th/21st century sensibilities we know that the panels will move, expand across the width of the board. If glued, the frame may crack or glue joints may fail.

I have to believe that a 19th century cabinetmaker would have known about wood movement and the perils therein. Yet they choose to glue veneer to a panel that is guaranteed to (and did) move. With the expected results. To their credit, they did a really good job gluing the veneer down. No glue failures here. And the doors still exist in one plane, no warps. Impossible to say how long the veneer held it together.

Now, on to the drawers. I do like the pulls. They seem to be original:

dsc_5511

An original pull? How unique.

The dovetails again are unique:

dsc_5510

The nails don’t look original.

They seem to have left a pin off. Then again, symmetry is so overrated.