Seemingly one of Donald Trump’s blowhard ancestors modelled for the seventeenth-century Flemish painter, Rubens.

rubens_atalanta_and_meleager_c1616_01aPeter Paul Rubens, Atalanta and Meleager (detail), circa 1616. (Metropolitan Museum)

Source: Art History News

Jack Plane

Posted in Distractions | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Picture This XCIX

From the ‘what were they thinking?’ files, comes this eighteenth-century Windsor chair.

geo_iii_ash__elm_comb_back_chair_c1780_02a_robert_youngPrimitive comb-back Windsor, circa 1780. (Robert Young)

The keen-of-eye might have noticed the H-stretcher’s unusual (and original) orientation which must have been the cause of many a painful Achilles tendon.

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Picture This | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Can you handle this?


I require a set of brass handles of the pattern illustrated above. Strangely, it’s not an uncommon pattern, yet I searched through my boxes of strays for comparable bails and backplates without any luck and I haven’t been able to locate satisfactory matches from any of the usual reproduction brass foundries either.

I am therefore appealing to the readership for help once again: If anyone should happen to have a set of eight of theses handles (or even a part set) that they would be willing to sell me I would be eternally grateful.

Alternatively, I would even be interested in borrowing/renting a single bail and backplate to carefully copy. The originals would be returned in as-received condition.

If you feel you can help, please contact me.

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Cabinet Fittings | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Picture This XCVII Redux

The dated walnut chest of drawers featured in Picture This XCVII realised £8,750 ($14,894) against a pre-auction estimate of £7,000 – £10,000 ($12,000 – $18,000).

geo_ii_walnut_cod_c1751_01aGeorge II walnut chest, circa 1751. (Bonham’s)

geo_ii_walnut_cod_c1751_01bChest top with dated inscription. (Bonham’s)

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Auction Results, Picture This | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

“Something for the Weekend Sir?”

barbershop_01a“Yes, I’ll take one of your chairs, thanks.”

Anyone who has restored antique furniture will likely have worn out one or two pairs of shoes walking round a chair, table or chest, dabbing a spot of polish here and another there. Like many, I suffer a few aches and pains, and stooping to work is a recipe for a visitation to the doctor or chiropractor.

To extend the life of my shoe leather and generally make life easier on myself, I have always employed a work table on which I place the piece of furniture I’m working on. The height of the table is adjustable and as I stand between my bench and the work table, I can rotate the table to work on any side of the piece of furniture without straying far from the bench. The table’s rotation can be locked so I don’t end up chasing the thing in circles when carving or planing repairs etc.

“How is this ingenuity achieved?” I hear you ask. It’s very simple; by unbolting the seat of a 1920s – 1960s cast iron barber’s chair and bolting a welded RHS or SHS frame onto the chair base in its place. A sacrificial work top comprising a sheet of 19mm (3/4″) thick plywood or HMR particleboard is then attached to the steel frame with self-tapping screws (fig. 1).

barbers_chair_base_01aFig. 1. Barber’s chair base with steel table frame and particleboard work surface.

Many of the old iron barber’s chairs are operated by hand levers and while these can be successfully modified, by far the simplest to convert are the chair bases that incorporate two or three foot-operated pedals: One or two of the pedals (depending on the make) are employed to raise and lower the hydraulic column and a third, brake pedal, locks the column preventing it and the work table from rotating (figs. 2 & 3).

barbers_chair_base_02aFig. 2. Height adjustable and rotatable work table.

barbers_chair_base_02bFig. 3. Straightforward foot controls.

Some barber’s chair bases have gibs attached to the hydraulic columns to prevent the chairs from rotating, but by simply removing the gib screws and gibs the columns will rotate freely.

Some dentist’s chairs from the same era are also suitable for converting, but may require a bit of fiddling to make them operable as tables, as some of the raising and locking controls are located conveniently (for the dentist) in the chair itself.

Later dentist’s chairs are usually electrically operated which can be a boon if you have (or can retrospectively install) a power outlet in the floor of your workshop.

Jack Plane

Posted in Distractions, Furniture Making, Furniture Restoration, Workshop | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Picture This XCVIII

Another item of interest in Bonham’s The Oak Interior sale in New Bond Street, London on the 28th of September 2016 is lot 198, an early eighteenth-century signed and dated oak bureau (figs. 1 & 2).

geo_ii_oak_bureau_by-william_palleday_c1730_01aFig. 1. Lot 198, an oak bureau by William Palleday, circa 1730. (Bonham’s)

geo_ii_oak_bureau_by-william_palleday_c1730_01cFig. 2. Drawer bottom bearing William Palleday’s inscription. (Bonham’s)

Bonham’s sold another, earlier bureau by Palleday (lot 69) on the 3rd of March 2011, bearing an almost identical inscription again, on a drawer bottom (figs. 3 & 4).

queen_anne_walnut_bureau_by-william_palleday_c1710_01aFig. 3. Queen Anne walnut bureau by William Palleday. (Bonham’s)

queen_anne_walnut_bureau_by-william_palleday_c1710_01cFig. 4. Palleday’s earlier inscription. (Bonham’s)

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Auction Alerts, Picture This | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

In Pursuit of Pleasure: The Polite and Impolite World of Georgian Entertainment

Fairfax House, York, 29 July – 31 December 2016.

From exotica to erotica, In Pursuit of Pleasure opens a window onto the outrageous and sometimes shocking behaviour of ‘polite society’—conducted in the name of entertainment.

Fairfax House’s major summer exhibition will look at the social scene in English towns and cities including London, delving into the tempting array of decadent activities and pleasurable pursuits catering for all tastes and predilections, sometimes challenging the notions of what ‘polite’ entertainment encompassed in the eighteenth century. In Pursuit of Pleasure also specifically uncovers the richness of Georgian York’s offerings as the social capital of the North and the place to see and be seen. With Burlington’s exquisite new Assembly Rooms, the excitement of the races, as well as the city’s renowned Theatre Royal, the city enjoyed a social and cultural renaissance. The explosion of luxury retail experiences combined to make York the destination of choice for those in pursuit of refined amusement. As well as exploring its lively winter season with rounds of dinners, balls, assemblies and parties, the exhibition delves into the city’s debauched diversions, including ‘polite’ society’s taste for notorious trials, visiting prisons and public hangings, the wanton pleasures available in the city’s brothels, as well as raucous activities such as cockfighting, bear baiting and street boxing. In exploring the full gamut of York’s lively social and cultural life In Pursuit of Pleasure reveals a fascinating world of the city’s exuberant, and often times murky, past.

The Fairfax House website includes images of objects in the exhibition, including a remarkable ivory dildo (more information on that here).

Source: Enfilade

Jack Plane

Posted in 17th and 18th Century Culture, Antiques, Exhibitions | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Picture This XCVII

Bonham’s The Oak Interior sale in New Bond Street, London on the 28th of September 2016 has a number of interesting items including lot 200, a dated walnut chest of drawers (fig. 1) carrying an estimate of £7,000 – £10,000 ($12,000 – $18,000).

geo_ii_walnut_cod_c1751_01aFig. 1. George II walnut chest, circa 1751. (Bonham’s)

geo_ii_walnut_cod_c1751_01bFig. 2. Chest top with dated inscription. (Bonham’s)

There are two women named Esther Bugby, or Bugbee, recorded in Essex in the mid-18th century. The first, Esther Broadjent, née Thonniton, married a John Bugbee of Malden, Essex in 1764, so cannot be the Esther whose name was recorded on this chest in 1751. A more likely candidate for its owner was the Esther Rust who married another John Bugby in Great Waltham, Essex in 1736. The year 1751 would have marked the 15th year of their marriage.

It’s rare dated furniture like this that affirm the period styles and construction methods so crucial in dating other furniture.

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Auction Alerts, Picture This | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Picture This XCVI

This table is described by its vendor as a “walnut and mahogany eight-legged tilt-top table, circa 1780”. I’m not convinced the top is original… I’m not even certain when or if it began its life as a table.

Geo_III_six-legged_tilt-top_table_c1780_01b1Fig. 1. Unusual George III pillar and claw, circa 1780. (Jamb)

The elephant in the room is of course the claw (standard eighteenth-century nomenclature). On pillar and claw tables, three-legged claws are the norm; four-legged claws (fig. 2) are much less common, and six-legged claws (figs. 1 & 3) are rare .

Geo_II_mahogany_metamorphic_quadruped_reading_table_c1740_01aFig. 2. George II reading table with four-legged claw, circa 1740. (Christies)

Geo_III_six-legged_tilt-top_table_c1780_01cFig. 1. George III mahogany six-legged claw, circa 1780. (Jamb)

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Picture This | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

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

Posted in Distractions | Tagged , , | 3 Comments