Spring Cleaning

With spring almost upon us, I pulled the old green jinker out of storage bright and early this morning and began dusting her off in readiness for the first outing of the season. The original paintwork is looking rather tired, but will see me out natheless.


A couple of pretty local girls hinted the other day that it’s also approaching picnic season and that there’s plenty of room in the new wagon for passengers, comestibles and refreshments.

Warm sun, warm smiles and cold cider… I can hardly wait.

Jack Plane

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Picture This XCV Redux

The Irish open fretwork serving table featured in Picture This XCV realised £2,750 ($4,712) against a pre-auction estimate of £1,000 – £1,500 ($1,713 – $2,570).

Geo_III_Irish_mahogany_serving_table_c1760_01aFig. 1. George III Irish mahogany serving table, circa 1760. (Christie’s)

Jack Plane

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LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair 2016

LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair
The Most Prestigious Art and Antiques Event of the Year
13th – 18th September 2016

The LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair returns for its eighth year to the suitably breathtaking surrounds of Berkeley Square, Mayfair. Sponsored by Delancey, the LAPADA Fair offers an unmissable opportunity to source and buy some of the world’s most coveted works of art, antiques, design and decorative arts. This year, it will take place from Tuesday 13th September until Sunday 18th September 2016, marking the start of London’s fashionable Autumn art season.

Over 100 members of LAPADA the Association of Art & Antiques Dealers, all experts in their fields, will exhibit an exquisite range of works across an array of disciplines including jewellery, furniture, carpets, tapestries, antiquities, clocks, ceramics, silver and fine art. As approachable as they are knowledgeable, dealers are always pleased to share insights into the works they offer and their provenance.

Of the furniture on offer at this year’s fair is this extremely fine and rare George I period scarlet japanned mule chest. The hinged top decorated with scenes of oriental figures in landscapes. The front, similarly decorated, with islands, bridges and fishing boats with an elaborate chased escutcheon over two short and one long drawer similarly decorated and retaining their original brass handles and escutcheons. The sides decorated with sprigs of flowers and with the original engraved lifting handles. The chest is raised on four turned bun feet.

LPDF_16_Mackinnon Fine Furniture_Scarlet japanned trunk, reputedly used to belong to Nelson w110.5xd58.4xh76.2cm_HRSuperb George I scarlet japanned mule chest, circa 1720, from Mackinnon Fine Furniture.

With each exhibitor adhering to a strict Code of Practice and an expert committee of 70 specialists assigned the task of pre-vetting every piece individually, the absolute authenticity of all work can be relied upon.

As a longstanding event in the art and antiques calendar the LAPADA Fair has continued to attract private collectors and interior designers from all over the world. The quality and diversity of pieces offered has resulted in consistently high attendance rates, with over 20,000 visitors in 2015.

Showcasing works that range from £500 to £500,000, the fair appeals to the most distinguished of collectors as well as first-time buyers. LAPADA the Association of Art & Antiques Dealers will be principally sponsored by the specialist real estate investment and advisory company, Delancey, for the third consecutive year. This year, through its charity evening, the Fair will be supporting The ARNI Institute, an organisation which provides support to stroke survivors around the UK. The Executive Committee for the event includes Lord Lingfield, Lord Chadlington, and broadcaster Andrew Marr.

Event: LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair 2016
Dates: Tuesday 13th September – Sunday 18th September 2016
Location: Berkeley Square, Mayfair, W1J 6EB
Website: lapadalondon.com
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7823 3511
Opening Hours: Collectors’ Preview: Monday 12th September 2016: 3pm – 9pm*
Tuesday 13th September 2016: 11am – 8pm
Wednesday 14th September 2016: 11am – 5.30pm
LAPADA Charity Party Reception: Wednesday 14th September: 6pm – 8.30pm
Thursday 15th September 2016: 11am – 8pm
Friday 16th September 2016: 11am – 8pm
Saturday 17th September 2016: 11am – 7pm
Sunday 18th September 2016: 11am – 5pm
Admission: Entrance by ticket priced at £20 each or by invitation
*£65 each for Collectors’ Preview invitation
Underground: Green Park – Jubilee, Victoria & Piccadilly lines
Bond Street – Central & Jubilee lines
Major bus routes: via Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street

Jack Plane

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Picture This XCV

Amongst the lots on offer at Christie’s Interiors sale on the 17th of August 2016 in South Kensington, London is lot 322 (estimate £1,000 to £1,500); a simple but attractive Irish serving table with open fretwork rails and frog’s back moulded legs (fig. 1).

Geo_III_Irish_mahogany_serving_table_c1760_01aFig. 1. George III Irish mahogany serving table, circa 1760. (Christie’s)

Of interest in another Christie’s auction, Out of the Ordinary on the 14th of September 2016 in South Kensington, is lot 562 (estimate £1,000 to £1,500), a pair of blued steel spectacles that formerly belonged to one of my personal heroes, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (fig. 2).

Wellingtons_spectacles_19C_01aFig. 2. The Duke of Wellington’s blued steel spectacles, early nineteenth-century (Christie’s)

North American followers may wish to place a cheeky bid on lot 566 (estimate £4,000 to £6,000 – US$5,216 to US$7,824), a gold and enamel mourning ring for George Washington (fig. 3).

George_Washington_mourning_ring_c1800_01aFig. 3. George Washington mourning ring, circa 1800. (Christie’s)

Jack Plane

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Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830

For my North American reader: Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830 – an exhibition, August 19, 2016–January 8, 2017.

mahogany_desk_&_bookcase_by_Christopher_Townsend_c1745–50_01aMahogany ‘desk and bookcase’ by Christopher Townsend, circa 1745–50. (Yale University)

This groundbreaking exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of Rhode Island furniture from the colonial and early Federal periods, including elaborately carved chairs, high chests, bureau tables, and clocks. Drawing together more than 130 exceptional objects from museums, historical societies, and private collections, the show highlights major aesthetic innovations developed in the region. In addition to iconic, stylish pieces from important centers of production like Providence and Newport, the exhibition showcases simpler examples made in smaller towns and for export. The exhibition also addresses the surprisingly broad reach of Rhode Island’s furniture production, from the boom of the export trade at the turn of the 17th century and its steady growth throughout the 18th century to the gradual decline of the handcraft tradition in the 19th century. Reflecting on one of New England’s most important artistic traditions, Art and Industry in Early America encourages a newfound appreciation for this dynamic school of American furniture making.

Source: Yale University

Jack Plane

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Picture This XCIV

Geo_III_cherry_&_laburnum_COD_c1770_01aA George III cherry chest of drawers, circa 1770. (Bonham’s)

Proportionally and stylistically, this chest of drawers could almost pass for a provincial English cherry chest – but for the unusual cornice-like top moulding with its central laburnum tablet (the base moulding and feet appear original, and with the drawers’ proportions, I am certain this chest was not formerly the top chest of a chest-on-chest or chest-on-stand). The cockbeading is also of laburnum.

The chest is also split mid-height, but curiously, there are no lifting handles.

I am unsure of what to make of this chest, though with the inclusion of laburnum, it could well be Scottish.

Jack Plane

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Art sleuths, have a go at Fake!

Jack Plane

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First Day on the Job?

Christie’s have just published The A-Z of furniture: Terminology to know when buying at auction which I suspect was penned by one of their porters a freshman intern.

Their definition of caning certainly differs from that which I frequently experienced at school.


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Picture This XCIII

BADA (The British Antique Dealers’ Association) have partnered with art market specialists, The Curator’s Eye to launch the inaugural on-line BADA Auction on Thursday the 14th of July 2016.

Some of BADA’s finest dealers have put up 413 lots that include silverware, jewellery, fine art, sculpture, clocks, rugs, porcelain and furniture.

Of the furniture on offer, lot 244 is a George III chest of drawers with horizontally stacked corner blocks (figs. 1 & 2).

Geo_III_burr_ash_&_mahogany_chest_c1765_01aFig. 1. George III mahogany and burr ash chest of drawers, circa 1765. (Curator’s Eye)

Geo_III_burr_ash_&_mahogany_chest_c1765_01fFig. 2. Horizontally stacked corner blocks. (Curator’s Eye)

Jack Plane

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On and off the Wagon for the Past Year

I no longer drive and I now live alone, and whilst I have the kindest and most generous neighbours imaginable, I just can’t call on them every single time I need some little thing. This necessitates me telephoning for a taxi once or twice a week to take me into town to collect the mail and purchase any essentials. I know all the taxi drivers by name – and they too are terrific – but for the most part, it just plain irks me waiting for and getting around in taxis.

I have horses and I have an old jinker (the two-wheeled horse-drawn equivalent of an open-top sports car), but you can’t stuff many bags of feed or eight-foot fence posts into the back of a jinker – well not without the horse sacrificing critical traction.

I also have workshops in which I can shape wood and forge metal, so last year I decided to build myself a three-spring wagon (the four-wheeled horse-drawn equivalent of a ute or pickup truck). Progress was predictably slow though inevitably thoroughly enjoyable.

I gleaned the primary dimensions of the wagon from nineteenth-century horse-drawn vehicle manufacturers’ brochures and managed to fill in the blanks by scouring the internet for old wagon images. The major components such as rubber-tyred wooden wheels, springs, brakes and turntable were purchased new.

I began by setting up the two axles on trestles, the appropriate distance apart, square and parallel with each other, and then measured up the lengths of the reaches (the two slim, flexible diagonals that connect the front axle/turntable with the rear axle). The axle caps and turntable block are made from hickory whilst the reaches are made of ash with 1/8″ thick steel straps bolted to their undersides (fig.1).

setting_up_fifth_wheel_02aFig. 1. Axles, turntable and reaches (the ‘gear’).

The reaches are bolted to the turntable at the front and clipped to the rear axle using ‘reach ends’ (figs. 2 & 3). The reaches are also braced to the outer ends of the rear axle with 5/8″ round iron ‘wings’ which I forged the ends of to suit their junctures with the reaches (fig. 4) and the rear spring chair mounting bolts (figs. 5 & 15).

reach_end_01aFig. 2. Embryotic reach ends.

reach_end_05aFig. 3. Ash reach and reach end clipped to rear axle.

forged_reach_wing_01aFig. 4. Forward end of nearside wing bolted to reach.

The gear and wheels were fitted up to check the fit (fig. 5) before stripping it all down for painting.

rolling_gear_01aFig. 5. Completed gear.

Some hex head bolts and hex nuts were used for ease and speed of fitting things up, but during final assembly, any hex fasteners were replaced with square nuts and either coach bolts or traditional square head bolts as appropriate.

The wagon body and seat are made of acetylated pine for lightness, stability and longevity. I tongued and grooved the floorboards and screwed the side and front boards to them. The raves (the angled side extensions), dashboard, tailboard, transoms and seat are also of acetylated pine (fig. 6).

waggon_body_01aFig. 6. Acetylated pine body and seat.

I have arc, MIG and TIG welding capability; however I didn’t want telltale electric welds spoiling the otherwise authentic looking ironwork, so any welds were forge-welded. To that end, I also made a couple of simple dies so I could forge authentic tapered round bar to flat bar transitions from various diameters of bar (figs. 7, 8 & 9).

waggon_seat_04aFig. 7. Forged 3/8″ round to 1/2″ wide flat end on armrest.

waggon_seat_05bFig. 8. Traditional style armrest.

waggon_body_03aFig. 9. Traditionally forged and draw-filed ironwork.

wing_nuts_02aFig. 10. Pair of traditional 5/16″ wing nuts forged from 1/2″ round bar.

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century bolt heads typically bear manufacturers’ identification and tensile markings which are absent from nineteenth-century fasteners, so along with employing square nuts throughout, all bolt head markings were linished off (fig. 11).

bolted_hub_with_square_nuts_03aFig. 11. Smooth-headed coach bolts.

bolted_hub_with_square_nuts_01aFig. 12. Square nuts ‘on point’.

I spent many hours researching three-spring wagons before embarking on this project and one aspect that consumed a disproportionate amount of time was identifying traditional colour schemes. Heavier delivery wagons seem to have been painted virtually any colour the individual or company chose. British agricultural wagons (along with all manner of threshing machines and other implements) were traditionally painted in red lead and blue lead, whilst in Australia and North America, agricultural and light delivery wagons were painted in black and various shades of blue, green, red and yellow.

I found a number of images of locally built three-spring wagons in what appeared to be their original colours, and in particular, three wagons with a common livery of primrose yellow wheels, black gears and red/maroon bodies.

The gear and shafts received four coats of black whilst the wheels got six coats of yellow due to its annoyingly not-totally-opaque properties (fig. 13).

painted_wheel_01aFig. 13. Black painted gear and yellow wheels.

Brakes are a necessity on a wagon for holding the vehicle steady and taking the load off the horse on long hill descents, but traditional mechanical brakes are bulky, heavy and not incredibly efficient. Braking is the one area where I conceded to twentieth-century technology and installed hydraulic brakes on the rear axle (figs. 14 & 15).

brake_back_plate_01aFig. 14. Rear hydraulic drum brake.

brake_drum_&_back_plate_01aFig. 15. Drum brake, spring chair and wing.

The body received six coats of red paint, again, due to its somewhat translucent character. When dry, the body was attached to the gear via a forged 3/4″ diameter body hanger that is in turn clipped to the front transverse spring (fig. 16), and at the rear, to a pair of forged 1-1/2″ x 5/8″ body hangers that are clipped to the rear side springs (fig. 17).

waggon_17bFig. 16. Front body hanger.

waggon_11bFig. 17. Nearside rear body hanger.

Where possible, I employed salvaged parts in the wagon build including the malleable iron steps (fig. 18) and the swingletree clevis and coupling (fig. 19).

waggon_20aFig. 18. Nineteenth-century side step.

waggon_18aFig. 19. Old swingletree clevis and coupling.

waggon_07aFig. 20. Sprung seat with integral glove box beneath.

waggon_16aFig. 21. Dashboard and foot rail.

waggon_13aFig. 22. Raves and tailboard.

waggon_14aFig. 23. Shafts, step, rub iron, rope hook, body strap and staff.

waggon_17aFig. 24. Braced shafts and swingletree.

waggon_03aFig. 25. At last, I can purchase a few of those 96-roll bulk packs of lavatory paper.

waggon_02aFig. 26.

Jack Plane

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