Picture This VIII

If ever there was any doubt that inset campaign brasses weren’t scraped flush after installation, then this image should dispel it.

Geo_IV_mahogany_kneehole_desk_c1825_01cGeorge IV mahogany kneehole desk, circa 1825. (Wilkinson)

Note also that the screws have been seated naturally and not fallaciously under- or over tightened for the purpose of orienting the slots ornamentally (clocking).

I find it somewhat bizarre though that a piece of campaign/maritime furniture – with flush handles and destined to be shoehorned into a packing case for transportation – should have prominent cockbeading and mouldings.

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Cabinet Fittings, Maritime Furniture, Picture This and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Picture This VIII

  1. confur says:

    Campaign “style” handles applied to a domestic piece. Bet the feet are immovable too.


  2. Adam says:

    After reading a couple books on campaign furniture I can only say that their concept of packable was very loosely defined. An officer would have a wash station that backed up into a perfect sturdy teak box and then an ungainly couch/bed with delicate arms and soft secondary wood. Zero consistency. Do love a Roorkhee chair, though.


    • Burbidge says:

      I’ve only found Brawer’s book. Which are the other ones? I’d love to have a look through them as well.


  3. Adam says:

    I should rephrase that. Brawer’s book and others that refer to campaign furniture. As far as I know the Brawer is the only book in existence solely about campaign furniture. Although Chris Schwarz is apparently in the process of writing one. There are a lot of references from his blog over at Lost Art Press. Look up ‘Ross and Company of Dublin’ for more information. They were the Stickleys of campaign furniture, so to speak.


  4. blowery says:

    I think you’re mischaracterizing what some folks do when clocking. It’s not about over or under-tightening the screw. It’s about seating the screw properly, but removing material from the bottom of the chamfer so that the screw seats in the desired orientation.

    At least, that’s how some do it. Some, I’m sure, over or under tighten.


    • Jack Plane says:

      Clocking screws is about aligning the screw slots vertically or horizontally. Period. Clocking screws has been carried out from the early nineteenth-century by over- and under tightening the screws. Adjusting the depth of the countersinks in the handles, or reducing the taper of flat head screws for the purpose of clocking screws is a completely crackpot notion of twenty-first-century origin.

      Seating screws properly results in their slots being randomly oriented. The gauche Victorians thought it ‘classy’ to align screw slots and evidence from years of breaking up late Regency and Victorian furniture and salvaging brasses supports their practice of over- and under tightening of screws.

      Altering the taper of a flat head screw by any means other than on a metalworking lathe is utter fallacy and would result in improper seating of the head with increased likelihood of the screw head shearing off.

      Either adjusting the screw or countersink will result in a mismatch between the diameters of the screw head and countersink. The screw head will also end up below the level of the brass. Surely these discrepancies would be at odds with the ideal of the fastidious screw clocker?

      The reintroduction of brass screws (iron screws had been the norm since the late seventeenth-century) appears to coincide with the use of flush-fitting brasses. The screws, being of the same soft material as the handles, made the scraping of the fitted brasses straightforward.

      The screws in the image above were tightened properly, filling their respective countersinks – and with no thought given to their orientation. The entire drawer front was then scraped flat; with the result some of the screws’ slots have been all but obliterated. All done naturally and with no fuss.



      • Anon says:

        Schwarz has never described clocking screws as anything but his own personal persnickety nature. That said, and I’m talking only about the 20th century here, although he popularized it in modern woodworking, machinists and especially gunsmiths never stopped doing it, not by over- or under-tightening, and not usually on a lathe, but by filing. There are niches where slotted screws never went away, and clocking remained a sign of craftsmanship.


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