I recently came across an unusual chest of drawers (fig. 1). The second thing that caught my eye was the unnatural wear to the bottom edges of the bracket feet: It looked like the corner blocks were missing and the brackets had been in contact with the floor for some considerable time with the result their edges were abraded more than one would normally expect.
Fig. 1. Mahogany bachelor’s chest, circa 1750. (Susan Silver)
In Bracket Foot Construction, I wrote of a less common and largely unsatisfactory method of foot construction where triangular pieces of pine boards, stacked horizontally, were glued into the corners of the brackets, and how susceptible they were to damage.
A picture of the overturned bachelor’s chest (fig. 2) reveals the cause of the wear to the brackets: The brackets are supported by horizontally stacked corner blocks, however, the bottom stratum (or strata) of each corner block is completely missing, resulting in the wear to the brackets.
Fig. 2. Incomplete corner blocks. (Susan Silver)
Also worth noting is the unusual placement of the rear packers and rear brackets (fig. 2). The rear packers normally extend beyond the baseboard by the thickness of the backboards. The backboards – whether oriented vertically or horizontally – then butt against the packers and are nailed to the back edge of the baseboard (figs. 3 & 4).
Fig. 3. Typical configuration of vertical backboards, packers and rear brackets.
Fig. 4. Typical configuration of horizontal backboards, packers and rear brackets.
In this instance though, the bachelor chest’s packers are flush with the rear of the baseboard and the bottom backboard extends below the baseboard and packers, covering the rear pine brackets in a rather displeasing arrangement (fig. 5).
Fig. 5. The (now damaged) backboards encasing the rear brackets. (Susan Silver)