Quote of the Week

[…] Thomas Chippendale. His designs reached both sides of the Atlantic […][1]

Jack Plane

[1] Nichols House Museum, Boston.

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Chippendale: The Man and the Myth

Whilst the Chippendale 300 exhibition is still current at Leeds City Museum, Thomas Chippendale is also being celebrated across the Atlantic this month.

A lecture, Chippendale: The Man and the Myth will be hosted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston on the 29th of March 2018. The speaker will be Brock Jobe, Winterthur’s Professor Emeritus of American Decorative Arts.

Jack Plane

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Chatsworth Restored

Chatsworth officially reopens today, the 24th of March, 2018 after a decade-long restoration and conservation program amounting to almost £33m.

The Chatsworth Renewed exhibition, running between March and October, highlights the work of those involved in the restoration process. From rebuilding the Belvedere turrets to replacing vast tracts of lead on the roof; carving the tiniest details in stone using dentistry tools to replacing huge blocks in the walls; careful restoration of priceless artworks to the renovation of famous water features in the garden; over the last decade Chatsworth has been fully restored and made ready for the next century.

The Duke of Devonshire: “The level of forensic research, expertise and craftsmanship applied by so many people has been absolutely inspiring. It has always been a thrilling moment to see the house come into view as you drive across the park and now that view has been made even more magical. With the years of blackened grime now removed from the stone, it looks truly magnificent.”

In 1981, the charitable Chatsworth House Trust was set up by the 11th Duke to ensure the long-term survival of the house and collection. Since 1949 the entrance money paid by more than 25 million visitors has made a vital contribution to the maintenance of the house and garden and it is this income, rather than any public funding, that has enabled the current restoration works to be completed.
Via artdaily.org

Chatsworth has featured in a range of films and TV programmes including The Wolfman, Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess and Death Comes to Pemberley.

If you are unable to visit Chatsworth, you can view the series of videos, Treasures from Chatsworth, produced by Sotheby’s.

Jack Plane

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Carving Tools

You rarely hear me banging on about tools, but Christopher Storb posted this excellent article about some London carving tools and their history on his blog yesterday.

Jack Plane

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The Sydney Fair 2018 – Free Tickets!

If you think The Sydney Fair is only for lovers of 18th Century Antiques, think again, over 60 Australian and International best 20thCentury, Art Deco, Vintage and Antique dealers will be at the Royal Hall of Industry Moore Park with thousands of pieces 17th to 20th May 2018.  Each piece is individually selected by an exhibitor with so many items absolutely unique.  Buy an engagement ring, a dining suite, a fabulous necklace from a Hollywood Costume designer, a poster or print, everything from Furniture, Art, Lighting, Bronzes, Porcelain and glass.  There is something here for everyone in every price range.

And for Fashionistas,  from the 1920s to Designer today, Vintage Fashion and Designer pieces from names like Dior, Chanel, – fashion, bags, jewellery. On Saturday and Sunday we have great events, Catwalk parades and a Couture Exhibition.  Events will be listed on the website.

Tickets for The Sydney Fair are now on sale, starting from $10 for concession, $15 general day admission to $30 for the opening night.

Tickets can be booked at http://www.thesydneyfair.com.au/ and you can keep up to date with all the latest news about The Sydney Fair at https://www.facebook.com/TheSydneyFair/

Sydney Fair 2018 Giveaway!

Courtesy of the good people at The Sydney Fair, I have two tickets for entry to the opening night of The Sydney Fair 2018 and two tickets for general day admission to The Sydney Fair 2018.

The first person to comment “Me please!” will receive the two tickets to the opening night of The Sydney Fair 2018.

The second person to comment “Me please!” will receive the two tickets for general day admission to The Sydney Fair 2018.

Jack Plane


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Nice Work! I

In this, the first post in a series of damning exposés of atrocities committed by less than dedicated craftsmen, I would like to draw your attention to this bit of restoration in the “Ah bugger it!” category.

When that unique piece of veneer eludes you, reach for the marker pen.

Jack Plane

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Additional Examples of Maritime Case Furniture – Redux – the Second

I don’t know what the protocol for reducēs should be; is a redux of a redux still a redux or does it become a sequel? Anyway, following on from my recent post, Additional Examples of Maritime Case Furniture – Redux, another coffre fort, virtually identical to the example at Goodwood has popped up (see below).

William and Mary kingwood coffre fort circa 1690.

Box and trunk making was a distinct trade in the seventeenth-and eighteenth-centuries and several notable boxmakers plied their trade in London. It’s quite possible therefore that this coffre was produced by the same maker as the Goodwood coffre – even the winding key looks identical.

Jack Plane

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Sláinte Mhaith and… take THAT!

When moving into my new abode, I unpacked two old Irish trophies that hadn’t seen the light of day for many a year; a well worn shillelagh (figure 1), and a hand stone (figure 2).

Fig. 1. The old wormridden bata.

Fig. 2. Painful, however used.

Hand stones, perhaps, and certainly, shillelaghs were used in Ireland until quite recently to settle faction fights (figures 3 & 4).

Fig. 3. An illustration of a faction fight by William Henry Brooke, from William Carleton’s Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, 1830.

Fig. 4. The faction fight between the O’Callaghans and the O’Hallaghans at Knockimdowney. From William Carleton’s Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, 1830.

Faction fighting typically took place between rival gangs, which could be constituted by families and extended family, or by those with certain ideological inclinations, or specific business dealings. The purpose of a faction fight could be due to numerous issues, but it seems that the primary motivation of large-scale shillelagh battles was the ritual, the performance of Shillelagh Law, which, while violent and dangerous, was also somewhat romantic and fashionable. The factions would often agree ahead of time to a melee, and then meet at a specific time and place to parlay, and then fight. Women and children attended to watch, music played, and both sides would stand in lines, facing each other while singing, taunting, laughing, and generally building up morale before the mounting tension broke, and each group prepared to charge. Generally certain members of each faction would step forward and ‘wheel’ his weapon, brandishing his shillelagh and ‘wheeling’ it about while hurling insults at the opposing sides. Once the fighting began, the men would use their shillelaghs or other weapons before striking, wrestling, and stomping their opponents. Sometimes the women and children watching from the sidelines would throw stones, hopefully striking the men of the opposing faction rather than their own fighters. As the general melee died down and most of the fighters were too exhausted or injured to go on, the fight was over, and drinking would begin in earnest.

Shillelagh Law constituted a set of ethical guidelines that dictated not just a specific stick-fight, but a series of rules of engagement that acted as combat and cultural conventions.  Historian John Hurley carefully outlined the rules in [his] book, Shillelagh, and are listed as follows:
If a faction is greatly outnumbered, members of the more numerous faction must join them in order to even out the sides.
If a third faction is involved, they should join with the less numerous faction.
No attacking of one man by more than one man.
If one man unfairly attacks another man, his own faction will attack them.
The weapons used should be evenly matched – sticks versus sticks, etc.
Punching, wrestling and kicking are allowed.
No striking of women, even if they strike you.[1]

My shillelagh is a typical blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) cudgel while the hand stone, found in my home county, Tyrone, is made from igneous rock (either dolorite or gabbros) which was quarried in the Sperrin Mountains during the Neolithic period. Given its highly worked surface, its purpose would have been as a status symbol rather than a working tool.

Sadly the hand stone is now a fragment, but when whole, would have looked more like that in figure 5.


Fig. 5. A lia lamha laich, or champion’s hand stone. (John Boyle O’Reilly, Athletics and Manly Sport/Ancient Irish Athletic Games, Exercises, and Weapons.)

I cannot say whether my shillelagh ever drew blood or not, or if the hand stone was broken on someone’s head. I haven’t used either weapon in anger, though I have been sorely tempted by some radicals and zealots at the front door.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Jack Plane

[1] L.A. Jennings, Real Irish Fighting: A History of Shillelagh Law and Hob-Nailed Boot Stomping, Fightland Blog.

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Whilst enjoying a quiet cuppa betimes, I was reading The Irish Aesthete’s latest post, The Rest is Silence, when I performed a double take and scrolled back to one of the images and there saw a rather fine in situ Irish mahogany wake table (figure 1).

Fig. 1. Wake table with leaves raised. (The Irish Aesthete)

Fig. 2. Set for dinner. (luggala.com)

Note also, the splendid pair of mahogany turf buckets by the fire in figure 1.

Jack Plane

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Picture This CXX

Reader Pete Smithies drew my attention to another exceptionally shallow chest of drawers (figure 1). However, this one has not spent its life on the high seas.

Fig. 1. George III mahogany chest of drawers, circa 1800. (Antique Atlas/Jonathon Drake)

The (approximately 12″ deep) carcase sides are veneered in two narrow, random width leaves (figure 2). Had this been the original depth, the sides would have undoubtedly been veneered with (easily obtainable) single-width leaves, or at the very least, uniform-width bookmatched leaves.

Fig. 2. Asymmetrically veneered sides.  (Antique Atlas/Jonathon Drake)

Also, the crossbanding and ebony stringing along the rear of the chest’s top are now gone (figure 3).

Fig. 3. Perhaps not the best candidate for cutting down. (Antique Atlas/Jonathon Drake)

It’s an honest enough chest (the description states the chest has been adapted). Reducing the depth of a chest to suit a narrow hall or corridor isn’t an uncommon conversion.

Maritime- and campaign furniture buyers beware!

Jack Plane

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