Picture This CV

… where decay and fashion collide.

Joyner-made late seventeenth-century chests of drawers employed pegged, frame-and-panel construction methods adapted from coetaneous building technology. The four stiles extend beneath the base moulding, raising the carcase clear of uneven, damp floors (fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Oak geometric chest, circa 1680. (David Neligan)

The bottoms of the stiles however, often succumbed to rising damp and wet mopping resulting in decay with reduction in height, or total loss of the feet.

I have restored dozens of early stile-feet over the years: It’s not difficult grafting on some timber and colouring it to make a seamless repair although the niceties of the task escaped the person responsible for the huge replacement feet in figure 2.

Fig. 2. Nice chest – shame about the feet. (Horn Antiques)

At such times, these early chests were frequently modernised by the addition of bun feet (fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Circa 1680 oak geometric chest with later bun feet. (Lucy Johnson)

As trends evolved, bracket feet were also added to early chests in the name of fashion (fig. 4)…

Fig. 4. Implausible bracket feet. (LVS Decorative Arts)

… though in the case of this oak chest, the feet’s dark stained wood and what appears to be PVA adhesive point to recent conversion (fig. 5).

Fig. 5. Modern handiwork. (LVS Decorative Arts)

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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6 Responses to Picture This CV

  1. potomacker says:

    I agree that the bracketed feet are the worst on several levels.I don’t see much of a problem with the turned bun feet as repairs. Would you be more forgiving if there were any original turned applied elements?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I am ambivalent about the bun feet: I actually like the appearance of them on geometric chests and if roughly coeval, then I am all for them. However, if recently added – whether through ignorance, or lack of skill to implement proper restoration of the stile-feet, then I am against them.

      JP

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  2. What kind of feet do you suppose were originally on the oak geometric chest?

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  3. Ken says:

    Were the Oak geometric chests made in England and shipped to the colonies?

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