Picture This LXXXI

The rather nice mahogany chest of drawers in figure 1 is lot 313 in Bonhams’ The Scottish Sale in Edinburgh on the 13th of April 2016.

Geo_III_mahogany_COD_c1765_09aFig. 1. George III six-drawer chest, circa 1765. (Bonhams)

The chest is possibly by Thomas Chippendale and stands on horizontally blocked brackets – a feature of much of Chippendale’s cabinetry. Further reading on horizontally stacked corner blocks and associated problems here, here, here and here.

Three of the chest’s four feet are missing one or more strata from the bottom of their horizontal corner blocks (figs. 2 & 3).

Geo_III_mahogany_COD_c1765_09cFig. 2. With three corner blocks ineffective, the respective brackets are directly in contact with the floor. (Bonhams)

Geo_III_mahogany_COD_c1765_09dFig. 3. Two previously replaced strata and one missing stratum along with worn brackets. (Bonhams)

In their accompanying footnotes, Bonhams mention a related chest, lot 32, sold by them on the 13th of June 2012 in their Fine Furniture and Works of Art sale in New Bond Street, London, but for some reason say nothing of another, virtually identical chest, lot 138, offered by them in their Home & Interiors sale in Edinburgh on the 24th of February 2016.

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 Auction Alerts, Picture This and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Picture This LXXXI

  1. potomacker says:

    Good eye. Is this piece another example of mop damage in your estimation or another cause?
    Is this indeed a 3 over 3 chest how is the middle drawer used?
    And what can you say about an auction house leaving a piece of, what looks to be, electrical cord in the holes of the bail? Are these pieces so common that they don’t merit a minimum of conservation before being displayed?


    • Jack Plane says:

      There doesn’t appear to be any damage caused by wet mopping. I believe it’s simply a case of the three glue faces of the strata being at odds with their adjacent surfaces. One of the remaining strata appears to be split off which may have resulted from the chest being dragged.

      The top centre drawer is opened with a key. A handle there would create imbalance.

      The auction house’s brief is to sell lots; they don’t get involved with restoration. With furniture of this quality and provenance, the majority of potential buyers would not want the chest interfered with.



      • potomacker says:

        I want to thank you for disabusing me of the mistaken belief that stacked corners blocks are superior construction. I don’t recall the source (CWF?) I suspect that because Chippendale charged a premium and his work gained a reputation for employing the best methods, the mistaken belief was promulgated by collectors and curators.
        The next point is to ask whether there is a best practices for constructing bracket feet?
        I understand your point that end grain wears harder than face grain, yet both orientations present cross grain construction at a very fragile area. Is it simply an irresolvable dilemma due to the nature of wood or is there a best compromise?
        Thank you again for your insights and elucidation.


  2. paul6000000 says:

    I really hope this blog is around for a long time to come. There’s no other resource like it on the web (or in print, I’d guess). A few years back, all my interest was in Shaker and Arts and Crafts, so this blog has done a lot to educate my eyes. I’ve also gained more hands on experience, so descriptions of construction methods that had flown over my head make much more sense on recent re-readings. I’m starting back at the first post and making my way through.

    I’m stuck in a small apartment for (at least) the duration of my never-ending divorce proceedings, so I’m going to try and make 1/2 scale copies of a couple of things. I figure it’ll be quieter to make small stuff and I’ll feel less intimidated about starting new projects. Right now, I’m looking hard at the mahogany hanging shelf and expect to decide on a chest when I’ve gone through the archives again.


  3. diceloader says:

    So how would you recommend a sympathetic repair?


  4. Joe M says:

    Would this chest’s carcass and top be of solid mahogany, with veneered drawer fronts?
    At first I thought the top lifted to reveal a shallow chest with 3 false top drawer fronts because of the lack of center drawer handle and the handle on right being missing (pulled off in an attempt to open the drawer)….Then in a closer view there seems to be 3 separate drawers….Why no center handle? Just use the “key” as a handle?


    • Jack Plane says:

      The carcases of chests like this can be veneered or of solid mahogany, but as the drawers of this chest are lined with mahogany, it’s carcase would be of solid mahogany too.



  5. Pingback: Picture This LXXXIV | Pegs and 'Tails

  6. Stephen Richards says:

    I own an almost identical Scottish chest, brought from Oban in 1949. Same handles, feet, dimensions, panelled back. The drawer linings though are oak except pine backs and the front veneer are crotch figured, each level of drawer(s) being reversed crotch. The back and underneath seem to have a darkish finish applied, though I see a red tint showing through in places.

    Dimensions are 44-1/2″ wide 21″ deep 38-1/2″ high.


  7. Pingback: Picture This LXXXI Redux | Pegs and 'Tails

I welcome your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s