Picture This XXIII

One would imagine that for over $120,000…


… the dealer would know which way up the drawers should be!


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 Antiques, Picture This and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Picture This XXIII

  1. Robert says:

    The upside down draw is an obvious boo boo. What is the other pullout for? The drawer sliding on it would seem to leave marks on what looks like another writing surface. How could you use both at the same time. This seems to be redundant.


    • Jack Plane says:

      As you say, the slide must exhibit obvious scars from the superjacent drawer.

      I haven’t seen a slide in this precise location before. It is too low to be used with someone seated at the bureau as it would hit their shins or knees.



  2. Brian Smith says:

    Sad. A rush job by some “setter-uppers”? Are things really that fast paced in the industry that someone can’t review a photo-shoot for a job worth over $100K?
    Brian S.


  3. Tom Baker says:

    I agree with your comment that a reputable dealer should know which way the drawer should go, but consider this: if you look closely at the “up side down drawer”, the key hole if correct, having the round hole on top & the bell below.
    What’s up here?


    • Brian Lowery says:

      You’re onto something Tom. The drawer isn’t upside down, but rather the lock engages the divider underneath the drawer (since the pull out is above), and makes it look like the drawer is in wrong. For $120 large, we can find out!


      • Jack Plane says:

        The presence of a lock can often be for balance/status and not for any practical purpose.

        I did consider the lock might engage the subjacent divider, however, with a piece of this stature; if the second drawer does indeed lock into the subjacent divider, then I would expect the escutcheon to match the others in orientation and position, and for a long, bottom-throw lock to be employed (not unheard of).

        By the by, the door escutcheon is also upside down (as is the door lock) which may be indicative of the cabinetmaker using what ever locks he had to hand rather than purchasing purpose made locks (left hand lock for the door and bottom-throw lock for the drawer).



  4. homesy135 says:

    What’s going on with the left hand side of the carcass? Has some veneer fallen of?




  5. Damien says:

    Where is the problem? As far as I can see there is a sliding shelve in between the two drawers so the slot was set at the bottom.


    • homesy135 says:

      Someone is thinking!

      Had I built it I would have installed the handle to match the others and skipped on the lock. However, for $120,000 I’ll build it how you want it.


  6. Leo Passant says:

    I saw this piece too and emailed the seller. He wrote me the following.

    “The brushing slide was a typical feature on early 18th century furniture. It was normally found on larger chests of drawers and was used for brushing clothes or doubling up as a writing surface.
    On this piece as it is on a small scale it would have been used as a writing surface for a small child who may not have been able to reach the writing surface on the slide of the bureau.

    The escutcheon on the second drawer is purely ornamental so as to be in symmetry with all the brass work on the drawer fronts. It doesn’t, therefore have a lock unlike the others.”


    • Jack Plane says:

      The height of the bureau bookcase falls within standard dimensions. I therefore don’t follow what the “small scale” (narrow width?) of the bureau has to do with a child’s ability or inability to reach the writing surface of the fall.

      In his response, the dealer states the second drawer is devoid of a lock, yet a drill pin is clearly visible in the centre of the ‘top hole’ of the escutcheon. This could, however, be a dummy drill pin riveted to a plain iron plate attached to the drawer’s interior (again, not unheard of – not every drawer of every piece of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century furniture possessed a lock and nothing cries “expense” louder than the chamfered tip of a lock’s drill pin protruding through every keyhole).

      If the second drawer escutcheon is indeed “purely ornamental”, then why isn’t it oriented the same as the others? This would tend to support the notion that the entire drawer has been inserted upside down.



  7. D.B. Laney says:

    Sure. The Devil’s to pay when you’re all off for selling something. Caveat Emptor.


  8. hughjengine says:

    It might hit $125,000 with all the drawers in correctly…


  9. Jim Pallas says:

    Could it be that the lock does access the blade under and the escutcheon is proprietary and was put on that way because of availability. Also would not the drawer also act as a lopers for the writing or “brushing” surface. May have even been reused brass off of another piece.


    • Jack Plane says:

      This is a high status piece of furniture and its maker would have been an exceptionally proud craftsman who would not have lowered his standards or compromised his deserved reputation. Had he intended the drawer to lock into the subjacent divider, then he would have fitted a long, bottom-throw lock for that purpose and the escutcheon would have been in the same location and orientation as the others.

      Drawers have been used as lopers for bureaux falls, but I have not encountered a brushing slide employed as a loper for a drawer. Drawers typically see much more use and wear than brushing slides, so a drawer would soon sag and be of no use as a support for the slide.

      I believe we are over-thinking the situation; the dealer who is currently offering this bureau bookcase for sale has already stated the second drawer lock is inoperable and the escutcheon is purely ornamental. The drawer is simply upside down.



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