Picture This LIVIII

Dear Mr. Coulter,
I am today sending down a high cheſt which is altogether too large for my preſent needs. I would you remove the cheſt from the handſome legs and work a new top in Walnutree with a nice edge onto the legs that it can be henceforward uſed as a dreſsing table.
The cheſt is to be put to good uſe with pretty brakt feet, of like wood, in the style of the Mohoganie cheſt newly arrived from London. Will to work the feet nicely with a proper mould and seamleſs corners in the ſame faſhion and Poliſh it all well.

Thomas Coulter had been the estate’s head carpenter for twenty two years, but sadly, was a less accomplished reader.

QA_chest_feet_c1710_01aCirca 1710 walnut chest with later elm bracket feet.

Jack Plane

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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.

14 Responses to Picture This LIVIII

  1. potomacker says:

    How exactly does one execute a seamlefs corner? It seems to me that the lord of the manor wanted London quality cabinetry on the cheap from a workman who did the best that he could. 300 years later and it is still functional!

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  2. Ken Hughes says:

    If you were to differentiate this piece (early 18th century) from a piece from the later 18th century, what kind of clues would you look for?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      A late eighteenth-century chest wouldn’t have such thick carcase sides; it wouldn’t have crossgrain D-mouldings around the peripheries of the drawer openings; it wouldn’t have feather-banded drawers; it wouldn’t be veneered in walnut and it wouldn’t have early eighteenth-century handles.

      JP

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  3. Brian Lowery says:

    Maybe Mr. Coulter got confused because he didn’t know his “f”s from his “s”s?

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  4. D.B. Laney says:

    Perhaps Mr. Coulter was a victim of his own experience. As head carpenter, he was, very likely, familiar with phenomena of “opening” mitred joints, especially on exterior mouldings. We know that wood moves very little in length. But when we create a fibre bundle with varying lengths, the potential for uneven movement is increased. During years of architectural restoration work, my only “call backs” were to replace mouldings that I had installed with outside mitred corners. We have, for all intents and purposes, abandoned the use of outside coped corners in cabinet making in favor of mitred joints and, they work quite well, when the end grain is sufficiently “stopped”. But I certainly would sympathize with Mr. Coulter and I have to believe that he was a far better carpenter than he was cabinet maker.

    Every woodworker would be well served by re-reading the chapter on “Controlling Wood Movement”, from time to time.

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  5. Eric R says:

    “handſome legs” ?
    Wonder if the estate master ever checked to see if the work performed matched his request?
    Possibly not due to the incorrect work remaining.

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  6. Kinderhook88 says:

    “had been the estate’s head carpenter” – was he fired for this?

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  7. hughjengine says:

    Is that Coulter of The North Riding of Yorkshire?

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