Gentleman’s Wardrobe

Description

Circa 1780

English Manufacture

Alkanet stain -Spirit based finish.

Primary Wood -Mahogany {Swietenia spp. & Khaya spp.) Sides, fronts, moldings & veneers, English Plane tree {Plantanus spp) aka sycamore or Harewood interior drawer fronts.

 Secondary Woods -European Pine (Pinus spp.) and Common Deal Backs, tops, bottoms, drawer bottoms & sides, drawer dust dividers & interior drawer bottoms White Oak (Quercus alba) drawer sides, Red elm (Ulmus rubra) top drawer spring stops.

 Other materials- Brass and iron hardware, iron screws, hand forged nails and brads, leather desk pad, African ivory knobs on interior drawers.

Dimensions:

Lower carcase –48 ¼” Wide @ base –47 ¾” @ case

41 ¼” High

24” Deep @ base –23 3/8” base molding

Upper carcase -50 7/8” Wide @ crown -47 ¼” @ case

43” High

25” Deep @ crown -23” @ case

Typical Drawer –7 13/16” High

46 1/16”+ Wide

23 3/16” Deep @ cockbead

Front ¾” thick

Sides 3/8” thick

Back ½” thick

Bottom 3/8” thick

                                Cockbead 7/8” x 1/8” @ top, 7/16” X 1/8” sides/bottom

Bottom muntin ¾” x 2” x 22 ¾”

Runner 1 1/8” x 3/8” x 22 3/16”

Upper Doors –23 5/8” Wide

40” High

 

Eighteenth Century Gentleman’s Wardrobe

 

Upon careful examination of the artifact, it is determined to be circa 1780 of English manufacture. The primary woods are Mahogany, both African and American, with Pine, European Common Deal and White Oak. Red Elm is also used in a minor but rather unique application. The interior drawer fronts are veneered with hand sawn sycamore veneer.

Then hinges, locks and other hardware are of brass and iron and original to the piece (with the exception of one drawer lock, which is actually a drawer lock but of the same time period). Many screws have been replaced with modern gimlet points. Restoration screws are of the early blunt type. The drawer pulls are replacements and the third set to be used. The previous set was also brass slightly smaller in diameter than the newer replacements. The original knobs were of mahogany (Swietenia spp.) turned to a mushroom shape and fastened with a ¾” tenon into a ¾” hole in the drawer fronts. The replacement knobs were designed after the smaller stained ivory knobs on the small interior drawers in the desk/drawer to match motifs.

 Keys for the doors and top desk/drawer were original however the second and fourth drawers were not keyed. An original style-working key was reproduced. The third drawer has a replacement door lock in place of the drawer lock. It is slightly larger than the original and because of the type will be inoperative.

The knobs on the small nine inner drawers are of two-piece construction, executed in African Ivory (not bone). The shank is threaded to fix to the drawer front and also threaded into the separate knob. One knob top was missing and had been previously replaced with a wooden replica and epoxied on. This was removed and replaced with an original style in ivory and stained with black India ink to match the others. The threads on the upper shank were ¼” 32 however was too damaged to use and the knob was glued on with animal hide glue.

All of the small interior drawers are constructed of mahogany sides; pine bottom and hand cut curly sycamore (Plantanus spp.) veneer, sometimes called English Harewood, with India ink stripes applied with a straight-line inker. Seven of the nine drawers had warped fronts; the two smaller drawers were not warped however their bottoms were split. All other drawer bottoms were also split. These splits were all repaired and at the same time the inward (concave) bow in the drawer fronts were straightened. This straightening helps make the drawers work smoothly and light sanding was done to the drawer sides as needed. A split running on the inside bottom of the top drawer was also repaired and stained.

Scoring on the top of the desk/drawer caused by the upper cabinet mounting screws. The holes were filled and new holes were made with screws of the proper length and style. Splits on the desktop were repaired, filled with hot shellac and stained. A new screw was placed on the left underside of the desk/drawer to re-secure the desk top/drawer bottom to the side.

All four large drawers had shrinkage damage to the fronts at the cockbeads. Large dents were filled with wooden Dutchman’s and stained. Shrinkage damage at the cockbeads were treated by re-mitering the beads at the corners removing the excess and correcting the problems. The joints were cleaned and the miters and loose cockbead re-glued. One drawer had delaminating cross-banding veneer at the lower center of the drawer front. The veneer was removed, the groundwork cleaned and the veneer reapplied using hide glue.

The three drawers are of dovetail construction, with mahogany drawer fronts, mahogany cross-banded veneer edging with swirled mahogany veneer centers and mahogany cockbeads (glued on- no pins). The drawer sides are of white oak (Quercus alba) and the backs of the drawers are pine (Pinus spp.). The metal drawer pulls were removed and replaced with original style wooden (mahogany- Swietenia spp.) mushroom knobs.

Any sticking drawers were lightly sanded, re-glued and squared up. The guides inside the cabinet were repaired as needed with new pine linings on the top-drawer guides for the top desk/drawer, the heaviest. Its construction differs from the rest. The sides are solid mahogany, the front half of the drawer bottom / desktop is mahogany, the back half pine. The back is pine screwed to the sides and bottom, as is the top, which is also of pine and covers the tops of the interior drawers; it is also screwed onto the sides and back.

The lower drawer carcase was in good condition with some minor damages from time. The sides are solid African mahogany with the top and bottom blind dovetailed into the top and bottom (both of pine). The back is framed in pine with loose pine back panels. Shrinkage was compensated for and the knots sealed to keep out dust. The top is veneered with previous repairs at each front corner -one missing. A large split from shrinkage of the right lower side due to the solid nature of the mahogany crotch grain wood. Seasoning released tension in the crack that has previously been filled. The crack was stabilized and the crack refilled. Any irregularities and loose joints were attended to. The upper carcase was damaged on the left top crown molding (previous repairs) and dents in the dentil work were filled with hot shellac and stained and finished to match. The left front miter on the crown was loose and re-glued. Cracks in the pine top were repaired in two places; one full width and one about 2/3 the width of the top. Loose beads were re-glued. A gouge in the crown molding and damage to the end was also repaired.

The right door was warped. It was removed, the door frame and panel straightened and reattached. Damage at the hinges and severe warping to the right stile was rabbeted and new wood replaced on the backside, straightening the stile at the same time.

Three new shelves were constructed by Mike Blain and were finished to replace the one plywood shelve.

Splits and openings in the back were repaired and sealed to prevent dust from entering, at the same time not causing further damage by changes in temperature and humidity. All deep dents and creases in the exterior wood surfaces were steamed to lessen the damage. Deep gouges were filled with hot shellac and touched up to match the surrounding surfaces. Treatment with Moses T’s Reviver followed to add the necessary moisture back to the wood and finish. 

Gentleman's Cabinet Drawing

Molding and door trim detail

Drawer detail and construction

Knob details

Door Repairs showing various methods of straightening

Click on thumbnails below for large view of photographs taken during the restoration process, use Browser's Back Button to return to this page.

Drawer detail showing damaged cross banding on the drawer frontDrawer detail showing loose cross banding veneer

Small drawers showing detail including ivory knobsDetail of drawers including Ivory two piece knobs

Drawer details and fold down mechanism of desk / drawerDrawer detail and desk drawer hardware open & closed

Crown molding detail, drawers and hand made screwCrown molding detail and drawer and hand made screw

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