Flag raising, Fort Sumter National Park, Charleston, South Carolina.
Flag raising, Fort Sumter National Park, Charleston, South Carolina.
Please, if you have the first Common Influence blog, get the revised one. Through a careless error, I swapped some detail pictures and conclusions.
I really need to get a better copy editor.
I’m down South now spending time in Shreveport via Dallas. It’s easier to fly into Dallas with a few more things to see there as well. Only a three-hour drive to Shreveport with plenty of diversions along the way. Efficiency in transport is not always a priority.
My first stop was at the Dallas Museum of Art to see whatever might be on display of the American furniture from the Bybee Collection, 98 pieces of primarily New England furniture collected by Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee of Houston. The entire collection is not on display but just enough to make it interesting.
There was a display highlighting two similar period chairs:
More on the Bayou Bend Collection when I have the energy to post all the pictures from there.
The two chairs seem to be from the same family but there are differences. From the display card:
First, the legs:
Then there are the similarities in the squared off backs:
And in more detail:
And down bellow:
The carvers of both chairs are better than I am but I think the New York chair is the better carved of the two. The Virginia piece seems a bit flatter, in one plane; the New York chair is more rounded, more three-dimensional as it were. It could just be the different regional styles.
I will be back in Dallas soon and would appreciate any suggestions you might have for things to see beyond the Woodcraft and Rockler stores.
Just because I have written a blog on a subject doesn’t mean I suddenly stop finding things of the blog. They’re out there and I keep finding them. Lacking any adult supervision, I can, if I so choose, share some of the more interesting of these finds. I so choose.
Following up on More Work Than Necessary is this diminutive chest:
That blog was about doing work that wasn’t required such as joining a case with half-blind dovetails in situations where the pristine area is then covered with a crown molding. Like this:
Nice work but they could have just as easily done through dovetails. It’s under the molding, the end grain of the tails would never be seen.
Sidelocks Not of the Religious Variety dealt with chests locked by a hinged rail the runs up the side of a carcass that when closed and locked physically keeps the drawers from opening. A recent discovery is this one:
Every sidelock I’ve seen has been on the right except for the rare example that were sidelocked on both sides.
The drawers were constructed with Knapp joints meaning it was most likely built between 1890 and 1900. No dovetails.
I just found this diminutive sidelocked chest:
Locking a chest this side confuses me. It is very portble. It here are things of value with, it’s gone.
Finally, I celebrated a misunderstood category of seating in Corner Chairs. Or Are They? My relentless search for this obscure chair has rewarded me richly with rare images of this underappreciated decorative arts form. I will present them to you in increasing levels of sophistication:
I looked through page after page of corner chair pictures to search in vain for the precise terminology to describe the decorated top rail on the above chair. If you know it, please share.
Yes, you read it right. There are two of these available!
Many say that brown furniture is dead. There are times I fear they are right. Take a recent auction. It wasn’t a great auction but it wasn’t a bad auction either. Nothing fabulous but no box lots.
At the end of the auction, I reviewed the results and was alarmed by what I saw. The most expensive piece of furniture was this:
Description: Late 19th century, green wash, top with downswept backsplash, hinged doors with shelved interior, on bootjack feet.
Size: 54 x 37 x 20 in.
Condition: Likely original surface, with paint loss and staining throughout; shrinkage cracks; later hinges and pulls.
This struck me as the type of money paid for antiques by people who hire people to buy antiques for them. Or there is something about the provenance that I am not sufficiently sophisticated to appreciate.
The later hinges and pulls were of the Ace Hardware variety, not period or even attractive. Mercifully, drywall screws were not used.
More troubling was the prices realized for some of the other furniture. Like this:
Description: 18th century, oak and pine secondary, two-part form, applied cove molded cornice, two over six cock beaded drawers, raised on straight bracket feet.
Size: 67.5 x 58 x 25 in.
Condition: Chips and losses to cornice; shrinkage cracks to both sides of case; breaks and loses to cock beading; later re-drilled pulls; no key.
The American Classical Miniature Chest of Drawers on top went for $290.
An interesting thing about this chest on chest started life as a tall chest:
You can see in the above photo that the back was sawn at the drawer blade. It would have been interesting to have examined how the upper chest was terminated.
Another underappreciated chest was this:
Description: Circa 1810, mahogany, light and dark wood inlays, pine secondary, top with projected corners, with line inlay frieze, six graduated drawers with triple banded inlay and corner fans, raised on square tapered legs with spade foot.
Size: 56.75 x 39 x 20 in.
Condition: Top reset with later nails; later pulls with re-drilled holes; some looseness to case; no key; shrinkage crack to left side of case.
At 56.75″ it’s only Semi Tall? As I’ve said before, we need some enforceable Federal standards on furniture terminology.
There were also these small rectangular blocks with stringing glued to all upper corners to match the sides being proud of the drawers and drawer blades.
This chest also went for far below retail:
Description: New England, circa 1800, white pine and chestnut secondary, five graduated lipped drawers, raised on later Queen Anne style feet
Size: 42.5 x 36 x 19 in.
Condition: Replaced feet; replaced pulls; several areas of lip repair.
No dovetailed drawer pictures. It means that the drawers weren’t dovetailed (not all are), the chest was difficult to get to or I forgot. Forgive me.
The last undervalued piece is one that I personally benefited from:
Description: Early 19th century, circular top, ring turned standard on spider legs.
Size: 26 x 16 in. diameter.
Condition: Refinished; later metal bracing to legs; crack and repair to top; repairs and chipping to leg joints.
It is ironic that I bid on this (over that interweb thing) on Saturday, picked it up on Monday and left on Wednesday for Building the Hancock Shaker Candle Stand with Will Myers class at Joshua Farnsworth’s new Wood and Shop Traditional Woodworking School near Charlottesville, VA. Even with the 18% buyer’s premium and 7% sales tax, the old one was cheaper than the class. And no hotel stays required.
The next most expensive piece of furniture was a 24 x 24 x 31 in. Butcher Block Table that sold for $1100. The legs were turned. Next was a Contemporary Industrial Bookshelf (with no redeming social or aesthetic value (to me)) that fetched $1000.
If you are a fan of quality furniture, I think you see you can do quite well for yourself at an auction. You might have to wait a bit to get exactly what you want, but I hope you consider it before you go to the mall furniture store.
Is brown furniture dead? I dunno but I not feelin to good myself.
When looking at furniture, the are things you see occasionally but are not necessarily rare. The more furniture I see, the more I realize there is no single right way to do things unless you ask Frank Klausz. There are some techniques that are more common but that doesn’t always make them right. There are a few things about this piece I saw at a recent auction that caught my eye and I thought I’d share.
First, the piece:
Not a very good angle on it but the showroom was not optimally arranged for my purposes. I am beginning to believe they don’t care. I’ll add their picture.
Description: Likely New England, circa 1800, white pine, bold molded and applied top molding, two side-by-side drawers above three graduated drawers, all with molded edge, raised on bold shaped bracket foot base.
Size: 43.5 x 40 x 20 in.
Condition: Replaced pulls; expected wear; good estate condition.
As you have come to expect, I took a look at the drawer construction. Dovetailed, but:
Not the thin pins that I seen so much of recently. Not a big deal, you still end up removing the same amount of wood no matter your pin/tail preferences. Just not seen very often.
The a look at the drawer blades/dividers:
Also interesting to note how much the sides have shrunk in 220 years.
Looking at the back:
The two piece molding is something else you don’t see every day. The lower piece builds out to compensate for the overhang. For the dovetail to work, the top must extend out beyond the sides. The upper molding finishes the look and hides the end grain.
Keep looking at furniture, you never know what you might see.