Picture This CXXVI

Whilst having my weekly look around, this pretty little table caught my eye. It’s described as George II, walnut, with original handles, circa 1750.

Fig. 1. A nice quality table with lappets on its knees.

Fig. 2. En suite handles and escutcheons.

Fig. 3. Scratched ‘beading’ around drawer fronts.

What say the sleuths?

Jack Plane

Fig. 4.

Fig. 5.

Fig. 6.

 

Fig. 7.

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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.

53 Responses to Picture This CXXVI

  1. Matthew Pease says:

    (Drumroll) Prrrrrrrrrr…Padouk! But in the solid!? Even the drawer sides. I’ve seen mahogany used in the solid at about this time – it must have been so plentiful and inexpensive in comparison to the labour cost of veneering that they could treat it so. Brasses look original and right for date. A nice untouched thing.

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  2. Matthew Pease says:

    Dang! What is It? The other timber with that sort of bitty grain that came to mind is palm, but I thought that couldn’t possibly be, and it would be less embarrassing to be shot down for padouk. Put me out of my misery!

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  3. Potomacker says:

    I’m going to put all my cards on the table and declare that this table has been remade, cut down and rebuilt, from a taller piece from what exactly I cannot say specifically. The gap around the drawers is one clue but the real giveaway is the loss where I suspect there was a vertical divider set into a dado. The scratched bead is just as quick and dirty as the the lower rail, which doesn’t match up with the effort paid to the legs. The tabletop surface doesn’t match the wear of the rest of the piece. The brasses were never made for drawer fronts so narrow. I don’t know what to make of the drawer construction but the use of a primary wood for the drawer sides further convinces me that they were recycled when the larger original was cut down in size. Equally it appears that one side is made up of two boards butted together.
    !750 seems very early George II. Parts of the piece might be George II but not the composition.

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  4. It certainly looks like a pretty piece as you say, Jack. What is it about the drawers, though? The brassware (particularly the escutcheons) seem strangely out of proportion and the construction of the drawer sides and bottoms looks very odd indeed. Is that a filled saw kerf on the bottom pin? Come on, Jack, enlighten us.

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  5. Stephen says:

    Queen Anne – c.1710? The table is walnut and the cabriole legs are turned to end in a pad foot. The drawer sides look like they might be oak and the drawer bottoms are attached to the sides, rather than let into grooves. I couldn’t find anything in my Hayward books on period furniture on this, other than one drawing of a drawer from a Queen Anne chest. If you enlarge the photos, the drawer bottoms are running front to back, consistent with an earlier date. The brasses look like later replacements. The scratch beading is a puzzle though, as I assume this was meant to mimic cock beading, which came in later. Finally, why wasn’t this veneered – the drawer fronts are solid, and I think the top is too?

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  6. diceloader says:

    Looks like a chopped down chest on stand.
    Escutcheons look too big for the height of the drawers.
    Drawers have been “thinned” with the height reduced.
    Drawer bottom re-added to bottom
    Simple “bead” added.
    Not sure when but guessing it started as an earlier piece than G3 and was repurposed later.

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  7. Joe M says:

    Solid primary wood, oddly sized brasses, artificial wear. (even worn edges on the drawer bottom which is sandwiched between the sides and the runner) No wear or “broom bruises” on the foot at the floor. swear on the drawer divider ends at the leg, pinned on one end. Breakout above each drawer lock area, not in align with each other. top surface far to nice/smooth. Queen Anne design. So…..Looks to be a victorian piece made from breakers or old parts/wood. Looks nice, pleasing design, but not “as advertised”

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  8. Joe M says:

    to really put my hand in the fire…some views….looks like some type of mahogany. Could this be of American origin?

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  9. OK…the first thing I noted was the apparent lack of wear on the table top. But what would this have been – a tall chest top? …a drop leaf seldom used? Does the top edge profile tell you something specific with respect to form and age? The small notches (daddo) along the bottom of the upper and middle blades is odd to me as it doesn’t appear to be centered, unless you’re suggesting the entire piece has been constructed of individual sticks, and not just sub assemblies, and that these were shortened just a little. If that was the case, why not thin these down to remove the notches? You mention the gap for the drawers, but to me these don’t appear to be too excessive. Are you thinking they are just too even for a piece of this age? Could you provide more detail as to why the scratch beading does not fit. And lastly – the lappets – what do they tell you about the legs?

    Kevin

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  10. Alex A. says:

    The drawer fronts and sides look like the same hardwood which has a very open pore structure that does not look like walnut to me. The end grain of the dovetails reminds me a lot of the Tasmanian blue-gum i am working with but that seems historically unlikely. Is it ash? Im assuming the drawers and apron were originally veneered to match the legs.

    The extra thick draw bottom and attached runners is a bit odd, especially with the dovetail being chopped. The large size of the pins makes me assume the drawers are either not english or much older.

    Hardware is not original.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Unfortunately, no.

      Very interesting comments, one and all, and the degree of thought is much appreciated, but some of the theories are very wide of the mark.

      I just added figure 4 which, in conjunction with the handles, is really all you need to decipher the table.

      JP

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      • Alex A. says:

        Switched to a bigger screen for a closer look and its very odd. The bottom tail was clearly sawn to make room for the pine and oak (bottom and runner?) in a less precise manner than the dovetails as a whole but the spacing makes it looks like it was always intended that way. Clearly beyond my knowledge :-)

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        • Jack Plane says:

          Your description of the construction method is spot on, though I haven’t noticed the use of oak anywhere in the table.

          JP

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          • Alex A. says:

            What is the runner made of?

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          • Jack Plane says:

            The runner is hand-sawn and un-planed which makes the species a little difficult to determine from the small visible area. The backboard is pine though, so it’s possible the runner is pine.

            However, I suspect it is of the same wood as the remainder in the image as it’s not the same hardness as pine (which would cause an imbalance in wear).

            JP

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          • Alex A. says:

            Went back and looked at your oak George II table and the drawer bottom should be in grooves and the stye of dovetail looks more like late 1600’s. Also, i cant image pine boards wide enough for this drawer bottom were common in Europe so is this an early 1700’s American piece made of tropical hardwood?

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          • Jack Plane says:

            Irrespective of the species, front-to-back drawer bottoms were commonly rubbed together (or at least, pieced side-by-side) to attain the desired width. According to Thomas Sheraton, this species “… does very well for the bottoms and backs of common drawer work, particularly for bottoms, as it comes cheap, and often broad enough to do without jointing.”

            Tropical hardwood you say?

            JP

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          • Alex A. says:

            My personal experience is fairly limited to North American domestic woods and Tropical woods available in Hawaii (mango, koa, etc.). I would say the only domestic i can think it could be is ash but the end grain does not look right for American Ash.

            Ive not done any work with mahogany but given the era that would be my guess.

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          • Jack Plane says:

            The table is not mango, koa, American ash or mahogany.

            JP

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          • Alex A. says:

            If it was Koa, that would be history changing :-)

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          • Alex A. says:

            Does Walnut in europe have that large pore structure?

            Added benefit, I realized that the antique smoothing plane I restored was probably satinwood.

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          • Jack Plane says:

            No, even under a microscope, European walnut and North American black walnut are virtually indistinguishable.

            JP

            Liked by 1 person

          • Alex A. says:

            Well I’m out of guesses, looking forward to the answer.

            Certainly some oddities on this piece. Red leaded white pine back, right side looks like two pieces of tropical hardwood (really looks like my parents threshold in hawaii) but the left looks like a single pice of ash.

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          • Yes but they are do standout from each other by smell. Part of a furniture restorers asset people laugh at me at but by smelling in side a joint have different odours for different century’s.

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          • Jack Plane says:

            Agreed, English walnut has a more earthy – farmyard, if you like – aroma. That, and to the human eye, it looks completely different to black walnut. But to most uninitiated academics and historians who can’t tell the difference, they resort to the scientific norm (microscopic identification) and totally confound themselves.

            JP

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  11. The hardware looks old to me. The scribing line of the dovetails looks very fresh and of the same wood as the drawer fronts. I’ll guess that there was a matching top that was in terrible shape, so they cannibalized pieces of the drawer fronts to make the sides for a new set of wide drawers to put into the bottom. They scratched a bead and darkened it but forgot to hit the scribe line on the drawer side. I’ll guess the top is glued up from the sides of the top.

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  12. Joe M says:

    could this be some type of cedar?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Apart from the backboard, the whole thing is Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata).

      The table is actually ‘right’; only the vendor’s description is a little bit off.

      It has been re-varnished at some point (as witnessed by the overall ‘fogginess’ and the small area of missing varnish on the front left leg, just to the right of the large dark dent, fig. 4).

      The top has, relatively recently, been roughly cleaned off (as witnessed by the remaining scuzz on the front edge of the top, fig. 5) prior to being re-varnished (as witnessed by the runs along the back edge of the top, fig. 6).

      The sides are one-piece: What I think some saw as joints (fig. 4) are in fact splits (fig. 7).

      The handles are, at their earliest, circa 1745, the lappets and pad feet point to the 1740s and the drawer construction (rebated front, raised bottom with runners beneath – both exposed) points to a date right at the very end of their implementation, say 1745.

      My take on it is; a George II side table, unusually in cedar, circa 1745, in fair condition.

      I’d have it.

      Images via David Neligan Antiques.

      JP

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alex A. says:

        I have some spanish cedar that i was gifted by a woodworker who moved. Ill have to check it out.

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      • Potomacker says:

        The ‘roughly cleaned’ top as you put it. was it likely to have been resurfaced in the same spirit of salesmanship that thought a shiny surface would attract a higher price? Is the pine back naturally oxidized or was it originally or at a later date stained?
        Is this a piece a reminder to buy hardware before beginning to cut wood stock pieces? It’s hard to imagine that customers at that time period tolerated brasses that interrupted the border. It looks so shoddy and front and center, too. This piece was meant to show off wealth and status, correct?

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        • Jack Plane says:

          The top’s surface may have been damaged (water from a porous ceramic vase, alcohol from a glass of wine or spirits etc. etc.) and may have required re-polishing as a matter of course. Had it been the intention to realise a higher price (through being shinier – Lord preserve us!), one would expect the whole table to have received a brush full of polish. Whatever the reason, I certainly wouldn’t employ the same restorer!

          The pine back appears to retain its original wash.

          ‘Ill-fitting’ brasses (as over-sawn dovetails) only offend a few present-day sensibilities. Show me an example of ‘well-fitting’ brasses and I’ll show you an example of ‘oversized’ brasses.

          This is a very modest table with, other than the lappets (which may have been the maker’s standard, or ‘trade mark’), displays minimal decoration (scratched beads and simply-shaped apron). Had it been a high status bit of furniture, it would have been constructed from walnut with oak linings, full cock beads and gilt, or gold-lacquered brasses.

          JP

          Liked by 1 person

  13. guido smoglian says:

    Hello Jack .I am sorry ,I do not agree with your dating of the table.It is a very simple table in an old style, all the dates you are going on about may be correct ,But in my opinion this table could have been made any time in the last one hundred years or latter.The fact that it not made from English oak or Walnut or Mahogany,says to me that the period of manufacture is difficult to say ,as some of the other posts have stated it looks to be made of bits and pieces ,the center escutcheon being to large for the drawer. It just does not have a feel that is as early as you say to me.

    Guido.

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  14. Fantastic post topic Jack…!!!…Thanks so much…

    I have worked with Native Chinaberry wood a few times, but not with its tropical cousin…

    If Guido doesn’t thin the age is correct…What is the current consensus? Where do you think the orgin providence is for the piece?

    Thanks,

    j

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  15. Richard Cooper says:

    Jack
    The pine back, not surprisingly, has quite a lot of woodworm holes. Some of these have been exposed as channels on the surface which suggests it has been planed. What are your thoughts on how or if this has happened.
    Richard

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I’m happy with the back – other than the two splodges of glue (centre bottom), presumably applied to stabilise a diagonal split.

      The worm evidence is typical of washed pine: The exit holes are where the beetles exited roughly perpendicular to the surface. The long tracks are where beetles have encountered the washed surface (understandably unpalatable) and burrowed along, parallel to, and just below the wash, seeking a suitable exit. Through time, the wash covering these fragile tunnels has collapsed, exposing their meanderings.

      The table has presumably spent some time on its back and movement has worn an area on the left side of the backboard and also to the leg on the right of the image.

      JP

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  16. Hi JP,

    Can you define “washed” for me in your contextual meaning?

    My professional background in Entomology is informing me to suggest that those “wormholes” are not post construction, but preconstruction in nature, perhaps even before the bold was sent to a Sawyer. This is typical for the vast variety of Coleoptera species that have a life cycle within the Conifers trees. “Pine Borer, infest rapidly infest the sapwood predominantly (but not exclusively) of Conifers. Even air dried lumber when reminets of bark are left on the wain of a rough plank/slab or the bolt before it sees the Sawyers hand can attract the attention of gravid females. The eggs can take some time to hatch and mature. Their emergence is as you described for small round holes, however, the “long tracks” are very common not only under bark (a slightly different pattern track) but also within the wood itself, as they consume and digest the starch rich early wood within the lumber. In most species of Coleoptera with a wood based life cycle, the majority only are attracted to living wood (aka live and growing), while some will infest and reinfest (Lyctinae) wood if the furniture or lumber is placed in very humid/wet conditions. All species are dependant on fungi from outside the wood to actually reach maturity, so wood has to be mis handled at some stage of processing or after to really attract these animals. Xestobiums (Death Watch) also requires prior fungal decay within the wood to be able to digest the starches with their enzymatic digestive excreations.

    If “wash” is meant to mean the finish (???) it has no bearing on the patterns that Coleoptera species leave in wood as these patterns can be found in forest samples, lumber yards or anywhere the infestation goes through its natural cycle in the correct species of wood for the given species Beetle..

    If you believe this infestation is post construction, what is the reasoning for that assumption? How would you tell a post vs pre construction infestation without species examination?

    Regards,

    j

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    • Jack Plane says:

      My definition of “wash” hasn’t changed since the last time you enquired.

      Washes that contain minium (red lead) will often stop the larvae/beetles in their tracks, preventing them from exiting the host wood and reinfesting it or other nearby wood. The evidence of this can be seen in old lead-washed wood when it is planed and dead larvae/beetles are encountered just below the surface.

      If the exit holes existed prior to the wood being washed, the holes would be at least partially filled with the heavy-bodied wash. The fact that the numerous exit holes are crisp and clear of obstruction indicates the holes were bored subsequent to the wash being applied.

      JP

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  17. I wasn’t certain if was the same meaning in this context…Thank you.

    You wrote: “…The fact that the numerous exit holes are crisp and clear of obstruction indicates the holes were bored subsequent to the wash being applied…”

    So you do agree the infestation was preconstruction…What type of wash does this piece appear to have to you?

    Thanks,

    j

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Unquestionably the exit holes were bored after the wash was applied. However, I can’t be certain the pine was washed at the time of construction – though in all likelihood, it was (I have encountered furniture that was washed long after construction; presumably in an attempt to thwart borers).

      Another consideration is; unlike chests-of-drawers and some other forms of casework that are, to all intents and purposes, enclosed, tables like this one are open at the bottom and offer the perfect sheltered environment beloved of furniture beetles. The wash was, in all probability, applied at the time of construction, however, the borer eggs may have been laid in the inner face of the backboard.

      The wash obviously contains pigment(s) of some ilk, though whether lead is present, I cannot say. Some washes were merely applied to improve the look of pine. By the number of exit holes, I suspect this particular wash doesn’t contain any lead.

      JP

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        • guido smoglian says:

          Many thanks Jack for showing some images of two drawer tables.as I stated before ,country made tables in unusual timbers maybe originals or copies or pieces made up.
          The quality of the timbers and the verneers ,and fittings on the sample tables seems to me ,correct for the period,Than the first table ,that started the topic.

          Regard Guido.

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  18. Jack,
    I might be throwing a spanner in the works here but I have questions regarding this piece.

    1 In the 18thC it was known as Red Cedar but today it’s been renamed to Cederella. It was more expensive than Mahogany so to make this table facade out of it makes me question it’s set out and grasses.

    2 The drawer construction is wrong for this period if you take the expense of the timber. E.g. why use expensive exotic timber but make very crude drawer construction which would be some 30years out of date?

    I have seen facards using Cederella but very rare and circa 1760-1770s but in earlier piece it is used more so for the drawer lining in bedroom furniture because of the belief of the aromatic smell to district moths.

    Going back to this piece, Yes I believe it’s English but because of the mechanics as a hole it’s more likely to have been make in the American Colonies and without physically examining it and carring out more research it follows the pattern of construction where the furniture is later than you think.

    Something to ponder on.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I think you are confusing the cedars. Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata) is a hardwood from the Meliaceae family (the same family as mahogany) and some of the softwood cedars from the Cupressaceae family. This table is made from hardwood.

      JP

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      • Sorry but i didn’t dispute the piece is hardwood.
        The term cedar was called because of the aromatic smell not because of the timber itself. The term Spanish cedar is like all timbers important in the 17th and 18thC were called from the port or country of ships departure into the UK.
        Spanish cedar was reclassified in late 1960s to Cederella or Cedrela.
        There is a big problems in identifying furniture timber is that we dont have the botanicals. and the scientists really can’t identify the timber without them.

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      • I am not disputing the timber being hardwood.

        The biggest problem to all from Restorers to academics scholars even the scientists is if you dont have the botanicals then its very hard to full class the timber.

        As for the ceder its name came because not of the timber but its smell so any timber with a aromatic aroma in the 17th 18thC was a Cedar of some sort.
        Cederella is now the term for Spanish Cedar thanks to a change in the late 1960.

        Regarding Spanish Cedar in Britain 18thC furniture making the only contemporary record I have come across says that it was disliked by furniture makers because of its very strong smell.
        But physically evidence goes to show it has been used from time to time. I have one today which is a Chippendale period chest of drawers late 1750s. Solid mahogany drawer fronts, oak linings, white deal dust boards and red deal backboards. Veneered top on mahogany but uses a Cedar for the chest sides.
        This subject as I have found from my work and research is not as black and white as we are lead to believe but it a subject that needs open minded discussion.

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