Reproducing Some Chippendale Period Brasses

My happy association with fine British and Irish furniture over several decades has lead to some interesting finds and spoils through auctions and private dealings.

A fortuitous encounter turned up a complete set of pristine, pure Chippendale handles (fig. 1). I wrote of the bails (fig. 2) previously in Furniture Brasses, in which I pointed out the bails’ remarkable conformity with the design for a brass handle at the bottom right of plate CXCIX in Thomas Chippendale’s Director (fig. 3).

Fig. 1. Exquisite Chippendale period handle, c.1755-65.

Fig. 2. Original cast and chased bail.

Fig. 3. Thomas Chippendale’s design for an ornate handle, published in 1761.

I plan on making a Chippendale chest at some point, but rather than mount the precious original handles on the drawers, I decided to make copies of them (figs. 4, 5 and 6).

Fig. 4. Reproduction bail.

Fig. 5. Reproduction backplates.

Fig. 6. Reproduction pommel (matching cast nut not shown).

Some commensurate escutcheons were also cast to compliment the handles (fig. 7).

Fig. 7.  Reproduction escutcheon.

The sand casting process – as used by the majority of reproduction furniture brass manufacturers – produces quite rough castings with unavoidably coarse casting flashes that require grinding away, and buffing the brasses with coarse wheels and compounds results in much of the original pattern’s detail being lost.

To do these brasses justice, it was imperative to cast them in a centrifuge employing the lost wax process to preserve the fine chasing and matting of the originals. It was not a cheap exercise, but the resultant castings are of an exceptionally high quality. The brasses have virtually no casting flash (any that does exist is so minimal that it will disappear during polishing) and are far superior to any reproduction brasses I have seen from any of the usual trade suppliers.

The moulds are of excellent quality and so, I thought I would offer a very limited number of sets of these unique handles for sale to my readership for as long as the moulds remain crisp. Prices will ultimately be determined by demand, so if you fancy getting your hands on a set or two of these rare handles, speak now or for ever hold your peace!

The brasses supplied will be per these images; that is to say, unpolished and with remnants of the gates/sprues still attached (fig. 8). Those familiar with preparing furniture brasses will appreciate that filing off the remaining sprues and lightly polishing/dulling/ageing the brasses to suit the furniture they are to be mounted on is a small price to pay considering the quality.

Fig. 8. Remaining sprues on back of escutcheon.

The handles will be available in ‘sets’ consisting of one bail, one left back plate, one right back plate, two pommels and two nuts. The fairest way to handle this is on a first-come basis. Once I gauge the level of interest, I can advise tentative costs. The cut-off date for expressions of interest will be the 31st of October 2012 at which point I will calculate the costs and notify all those interested. There will be no obligation to purchase.

If interested in obtaining any of these exclusive handles and/or escutcheons, please specify your requirements via the contact form below.

Jack Plane


About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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