No, not the Fentanyl/Norspan patches that some of us stick on our upper arms; I am talking about the patches that were let into veneered (and on occasion, solid) furniture at the time of production to supplant dead knots, voids, bark inclusions or other blemishes.
To today’s burgeoning anal-retentive society, knotholes in the dining table are simply unacceptable! As a result, mills and factories discard thousands of feet of beautiful timber and veneer in an effort to compete with the plastic laminates that supposedly emulate real wood.
In the late seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries, veneer was hard won and occasionally, upon opening up a log, a defect or two might have been discovered amongst some otherwise attractively figured leaves of veneer… so what? They’d lay the veneer as per normal, insert patches in place of the defects and get on with it.
“Ha! Jack has cut some veneer that has holes in it and he’s trying to justify patching it so he doesn’t have to saw some more!”
Well, yes. But I also have the evidence to support my assertion:
A rather nice ash-veneered chest, sporting many circular, oval and rectangular patches (figs. 5, 6 & 7).
By comparison, the chest-on-chest in figure 11 has been patched in a couple of places by a restorer at some point… well at least he did use elm.