Picture This LXXXVII

Right-oh sleuths, it’s time to stick the briar between the teeth, grab the magnifying glass and don the beerstalker.

This little beauty is currently being advertised by a dealer as mid eighteenth-century, of oak and elm, recently polished and with replacement handles. Over to you (click on the images for enlargements).

oak_lowboy_01aFig. 1.

oak_lowboy_01cFig. 2.

oak_lowboy_01dFig. 3.

oak_lowboy_01eFig. 4.

oak_lowboy_01fFig. 5.

oak_lowboy_01gFig. 6.

As usual, any ‘holes-in-one’ will not be published until others have had a fair go.

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.
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23 Responses to Picture This LXXXVII

    • Jack Plane says:

      I’m afraid I don’t have a separate image of the drawer – and it’s not really about the drawer.

      I would guess the drawer bottom and runners are hidden within rebated sides – though if it’s a provincial table, both the bottom and runners may be visible below the sides. That will date it more accurately for you. But don’t get bogged down with the date; look at the whole.

      JP

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  1. Joe M says:

    Forgery….fig 5,6 shows dark shadow lines not matching the tables frame dimensions, two nail holes (one still containing a nail), The top shows such little shrinkage for even a three board top. At the left edge in fig3 shows a crack but not in the cross grain molding. Which, at the stated age (Mid 18th) would have expanded and contracted enough over time to do much more “damage” to the cross grain moldings along the table top ends….
    which brings us to fig 4…. the “gross grain molding appears to be 1/8″thick (approx) veneer bent/formed around the tables rounded over edges…The leg surfaces, especially the corners of the legs show little of the expected wear, dents, chips and knocks in comparison to the knee blocks that have “wear” ,even on the inside surfaces a and edges.
    Fig 5,6….The carcass sides, rear/ front rail too thin..
    My guess….. assembled from parts/pieces……late 19th century………made to imitate mid 18th.

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  2. Joe M says:

    After almost being burned once…. I’m maybe too critical (and with limited knowledge) and never take a dealers word as 100% accurate………and they are asking too much anyway!

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  3. Joe M says:

    The ” molding” around the top is just too “clean” very few splits and cracks….plus it seems to be formed around the tops edge…maybe steamed? Looks very thin and applied like veneer…not as I would expect…Thicker pieces glued to an angled top/backing strip and the outside Round over cut into the cross grained pieces…..So……….18th century Carcass with replaced late 19th Century made top?
    But those Knee blocks, applied as they are, so remind me of something….late 18th early 20th……

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    • Jack Plane says:

      The walnut moulding is a very strange addition indeed. I’m not certain why it’s there, but I have a couple of hypotheses which I will discuss later.

      I would suggest concentrating on the type of oak, its condition and colour.

      JP

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  4. Joe M says:

    The “Walnut” cross edging also reminds me of brazilian rosewood veneer covered moldings on american clocks in the 1860-1890. With it’s redish/orangeish (is that a word?) color and the dark/blacker sections.

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  5. Joe M says:

    The front apron is veneered…………..so I guess the veneer on the sides and drawer front has been removed at some point in it’s life and the top made/added later.

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  6. Joe M says:

    If the top is “correct” then it also has been striped of it’s veneer/feather/cross bandings etc. which would explain no step at the edge before the round-over cross edging…but Why such thin veneered edge molding and what about the 2 nail holes in lower edge by the rear rail……still think the top is added…
    and were veneered carcasses (which looks a little like mahogany on my screen) made with Queen Anne style oak legs?
    That’s it……….I’ll be quiet and let others post……..another great puzzle… Thanks Jack!

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    • Jack Plane says:

      If the top, sides and drawer front were all previously veneered (and the apron does indeed appear to be veneered in oak! Nothing was veneered in oak!), then why the walnut moulding?

      These George II oak tables (when in the solid) were made entirely of wainscot oak. The assortment of rough looking oak used for the carcase does indicate it was previously covered up – but with what?

      The greenish tinge to the oak tells me it could have been stripped with an alkali stripper. Maybe it hasn’t been stripped with an alkali stripper, so what else would cause the oak to have that green tinge?

      JP

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  7. Joe M says:

    Would like to hear/see W. Patrick Edwards thoughts on this piece…..

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  8. Alex A. says:

    Seems odd to me that a mid 18th century table top would have such a small strip of wood glued onto the edge, especially since the two larger boards were so carefully matched grain wise.

    Is there something about the species? It really reminds me of live oak.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I don’t think there was any attempt to match the grain of the top’s boards. The upper three boards (in the image) are obviously from the same stick. The bottom board is quite different. This was and still is common practice on articles that are going to be covered over.

      The fact that the top was nailed on (holes now filled) with wrought nails (fig. 6) is also indicative that the top was intended to be covered with something.

      The oak is probably some cut of local stuff.

      JP

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      • Alex A. says:

        Right had not considered the veneer aspect.

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      • Alex A. says:

        I thought about it more last night and I feel like I have seen that walnut trim before; is it William and Mary?

        I don’t see any sign that the top came off of another piece so could they have taken off the original veneer and updated the edge trim? The walnut looks pretty thick like they filled in an existing molding profile.

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  9. Joe M says:

    Ok….I’m going to put this out there…hope I will not be banned or labeled as the village idiot…..But copper/brass could leave a green stain when severely oxidized….I have no idea of it’s ingredients but could a red japanning, using copper as it’s pigment, have been used on this table?…there I said it…let the stones and insults fly…….be gentle……

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I admit, I don’t know the full story of this table, but it’s obvious from the low quality of the oak used in its construction that the table was intended to be covered up from its inception.

      As evidenced by the colour and rawness of the oak on the top and sides, the table has been subjected to alkali. Chemical stripping with caustic will leave oak in this greenish state, but the dryness and untouched surfaces of the underside tells me the table wasn’t dipped in a hot caustic tank. Manually stripping surfaces with caustic is a messy job and leaves tidemarks and drips – none of which are present. Of course, a commercial gel stripper containing caustic could have been used, but strippers would only have been used on a polished surface and this table was never originally polished.

      Japanned furniture was popular during this era and was applied over numerous coats of gesso which, when washed from oak, leaves the same alkali green tone to the wood. I’m certain this table was originally painted.

      As for the walnut moulding and the oak veneer on the front; I suspect, at some point, the painted surface was deemed too far-gone to restore and veneering the table was considered viable, or a gentleman cabinetmaker decided to veneer the table for a bit of fun. The walnut moulding I can understand as it fits with the period (but what did they consider doing with the legs?), but oak veneer wasn’t used for show surfaces during this period; it was always used in the solid and would have been wainscot.

      The dealer describes the table as being “in fine condition and finely crafted” and states they have had it “French polished”. Why would a dealer french polish (a process not invented until the nineteenth-century) a table from the second quarter of the eighteenth-century?

      JP

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  10. Alan Bishop says:

    Did it originally have a chest or cabinet on top?

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