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We are not the Waltons.
My step-mother believes we are. Or, perhaps, she believes that if she acts like we are the Waltons, we will become the Waltons.
We know better.
We are scattered geographically (Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri X 2 and California) and by age, I am 8, 14 and 16 years older than my siblings. When I left for college in Pittsburgh my family moved Denver. And I never lived with the family again except for four to six days occasionally at Christmas and three weeks when my father died. How the sibs turned out is not my fault.
So, like many other families, I assume, we do a Christmas lottery. Every sibling and spouse participating is assigned another sibling or spouse in an allegedly random draw and given the opportunity to purchase said sibling or spouse a gift from a supplied list not to exceed $100 exclusive of shipping and tax although point has been so subject of some discussion and dispute. Over the years the proffered gift lists have gotten shorter to the point of being only for a gift card or cash.
Annually, I supply my list of 4 of 5 items that actually requires a fair amount or research. Making an Amazon wish list helps. What inevitably happens is that a sibling or spouse would “buy” something my wife had already purchased from the same list. Many of these items were tools. In recent past, there were many tools at the $99 price point. Now, not so much.
These tools have included:
Home Depot now only stocks a 6″ bench grinder for $45. I don’t use this grinder much anymore since like all good Kool-Aid® drinking woodworker, I have replaced it with a slow speed grinder.
This is not the actual grinder I was gifted. My sister gave me one like it the year the family was spending the holiday with her in Los Angeles. Driving to the airport, I was concerned how I was going to check it and how much it would cost for a third checked item. I found a Home Depot en route and returned that one for cash. I bought this one at a local Home Depot the next day.
Then there was:
Still used for the annual Toys for Tots build. This year I had three drill presses for the build. I could have used a fourth but space is not infinite.
In a break from Ryobi, there was this:
This is now the Rockler Heavy-Duty Tenoning Jig, Item #: 29840 for $129.
Moving away from woodworking:
The missing sockets and drive live in the bandsaw now.
Home Depot is now selling a Wen that looks a lot like a Rockwell that looks like a Triton that looks like a Grizzly that looks like a Scheppach. Then I stopped looking.
The last tool I mention in this walk down memory tool lane is this classic:
I did buy an additional template and use it to make box joints.
Discontinued by Porter+Cable, this machine next spent time as Woodcraft’s WoodRiver 12″ Half Blind Dovetail Jig. It is now the MLCS Dovetail Jig. Old tools never die, they just get new boxes.
I thought I would never use this dovetail jig because I don’t like the aesthetics of machine cut dovetails. Maybe if I had one of those $500 dovetail jigs I might feel differently but I don’t and I don’t. I’m not one of those dovetail purists/fetishist that rejects the existence of machine cut dovetails on philosophical grounds. They are a valid method of joinery. I just don’t like the look.
I never thought I would use the jig until I found this on eBay:
But this one is different:
I was bothered by this in that is not like the others in the collection:
The typical box has a bottom attached with a sliding dovetail creating feet to keep the contents away from damp mine floors.
I was also bothered by the fact that a design feature of the boxes was that the were assembled without any glue. The joinery hold the box together. No glue required. Half-blind dovetails cannot rely on friction to maintain joint integrity. What keeps the box together?
Having bought one, I had to build one:
Not pinned yet.
The family took a vote this year on the Christmas lottery. Some of us felt it had become functionally like taking $100 from the left pocket and putting it in the right pocket. Less tax and shipping. The vote was two to discontinue, one to continue and one abstention. Maybe not a principled abstention, more like disdain or disinterest. Only siblings were polled. We didn’t think it fair to get spouses involved in such an emotionally charged issue.
A white elephant exchange was suggested. (Everyone provides wrapped, low value gift. The first person selects a wrapped gift. The next person can either select a wrapped present or take the first person’s gift. If a gift is stolen, the victim can select a wrapped gift or a previously selected gift. You cannot immediately steal back a stolen gift. And so it goes.)
This did not happen because one sibling was very seriously concerned about ending up with a $25 tchotchke they didn’t want. Apparently they never heard of regifting…
We all just donated $100 to a charity of our choice.
At a recent auction there was an unusually large number interesting seating units. There’s always a lot of chairs at an auction but this was the most interesting assortment I have seen locally. Too many for one blog so I will just start with the multi-user seats.
Large Antique Continental Paint Decorated Storage Bench
Description: 19th century, pine, two hinged seats, with bootjack feet, the whole retaining old painted surface featuring floral sprays.
Size: 28 x 118.5 x 18 in.
Condition: Insect damage; surface wear; paint loss; signs of outdoor use; shrinkage crack to one seat and left side.
French Provincial Style Double Back Settee
Description: Late 20th century, mahogany, shaped ladder backs , rush seat, curved arms, raised on six cabriole legs with turned stretcher base.
Size : 41 x 48 x 22 in.
Condition: Light surface wear; overall good estate condition.
Not much to say here so we move on to:
Dutch Marquetry Inlaid Double Back Settee
Description: Early 20th century, mahogany, mixed light wood inlays, shaped crest rail, upholstered back and seats, reticulated arm supports on a curule form base, the frame with barber pole and flowering vine inlays throughout.
Size: 36 x 41 x 18 in.
Condition: Later upholstery; some shrinkage cracks at base.
And finally, this is a single-seater but it is similar in nature to the above settee:
Dutch Marquetry Inlaid Arm Chair
Description: Early 20th century, mahogany, light and dark wood vine and floral inlays throughout, shaped crest rail, rolled arms, on paw feet.
Size: 35 x 30 x 25.5 in.
Condition: Later velvet upholstery; expected wear especially at feet
2 – This design of chest was used by peddlers to transport their goods on a mule. The chests were often used in pairs, one on each side of the mule, and the drawers were used for smaller items, while the trunks held cloth and larger items. The peddler could easily gain access to goods in the drawers without unloading the mule, and could thus accost potential customers even when on the move.
George III Oak Mule Chest
Description: Late 18th century, two-part form, top with hinged lid and applied molded edge, interior with two drawers and secret compartment, upper cabinet with two lipped drawers, lower chest with two cock beaded drawers, on straight bracket feet.
Size: 45 x 44 x 22 in.
Condition: Shrinkage cracks and staining to lid; no key; missing locks; later pulls; shrinkage crack to right side of lower case and small chip near waist drawer.
Kinda a mule chest on chest with bracket feet. The upper three drawers are just applied molding and pulls:
The drawers in the till were a bit stiff so I did not pursue the search for the hidden compartment as aggressively as I might have.
Then, there is the primitve nailed version:
New England Painted Mule Chest
Description: 19th century, white pine, red wash, remnants of old blue paint to molded lid, two lipped drawers, raised on bootjack feet.
Size: 37 x 37 x 18.5 in.
Condition: Later red wash; top missing hinges; later foot facing to front.
I would show you the inside but there are no hinges and the lid kept falling off. No till. I can show you this ingenious repair of a sort:
And the back:
Notice, as I have pointed out before, the back is unpainted. They really didn’t care what the wall saw. Of course, it could have been dipped, stripped and repainted.
Then there was this piece from local auction:
Georgian Mahogany Collector’s Cabinet on Stand
Description: Early 19th century, pine and poplar secondary, one part form, applied cove molded cornice with dentil molding, hinged panel doors, opening to reveal (20) graduated drawers, on a later custom Chippendale style base.
Size: 54.5 x 35.5 x 20 in.
Condition: Later stand; refinished; lacking operable key.
If one opens the doors on a collectors chest, what does one see?
And if one looks more closely at the drawers, what does one see?
If one looks even more closely at the carcass, what does one see?
The second drawer position from the top (ninth from the bottom) has extra dados. Was there an option for shallower drawers or trays?
The other thing I noticed was the drawers bottoms being nailed on and extending beyond the drawer sides becoming a the drawer runners. Not a common arrangement but not rare either. I’ve seen six to eight cabinets with this style drawer although it seems more common in primitive pieces.
Another fascination of mine, as regular readers know, is the back of furniture. Many furniture makers just nailed on whatever they had lying around the shop. Any wood will do..
I really like the mover’s inventory stickers left on. Much of our furniture still proudly wears theirs.
I saw this interesting cradle at an auction recently:
American Primitive Cherry Cradle
Description: 19th century, two part form, dovetailed cradle with iron rod swing supports on a boot-jack foot base with metal handles.
Size: 32 x 40 x 15 in.
Condition: Later metal handles; surface scratches; small shrinkage cracks.
What is more interesting it the method of suspension of the cradle body:
What was confusing was the description of this being a “dovetailed cradle”. I believe that I am eminently qualified to find dovetails, yet I found none. Look at the cradle for yourself:
I am truly disturbed by the apparent discrepancy between the written and the observed. I know that the people that write auction descriptions are highly trained experts that in many states are licensed or certified. Believe me. I am starting to believe that the fault is in me. The dovetails are there and I just can’t see them. I hope that’s the case. I would hate to see someone lose the job over this…
If you have visited the web site of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (sapfm.org) recently, you have undoubtedly see this image:
From the SAPFM site:
Reproduction of a Seymour Tambour Desk with inlayed (sp?) Tambour.
The original, by John Seymour, was made circa 1793-1796 in Boston, MA.
It is now in the collection at the Winterthur Museum, Delaware.
Plans by Robert Millard were used.
I have been to Winterthur and have this picture to prove it:
Their picture is better:
There is also this desk at Bayou Bend in Houston, TX:
Bayou Bend offered the following explanation:
The tambour desk was a new and innovative form that reflects the increasingly important place of women in American society in the early 19th century, as well as the growing international influence on American furniture design. Rather than relying on English design sources, the desk appears to be related to a small group of furniture influenced by contemporary French models, in this instance the bonheur du jour, or small writing table, of the Louis XVI period (1774–1793). The desk enjoyed great popularity in Boston and in the cabinet making centers north of the city. Exhibited in the Federal Parlor at Bayou Bend, this example bears the script initials “TS” and is similar to a desk with a paper label bearing the names of John and Thomas Seymour. Although these relationships strengthen the attribution to the Seymours’ shop, they are not sufficient to attribute the desk to a specific maker. Thomas Seymour’s own advertisements specify that the furniture was made not by but “under the direction of Thomas Seymour.” Whether this elegant desk represents the work of an individual or a group, the accomplished results epitomize the cabinetmakers’ sensitive interpretations of the Neoclassical style in America, through the drawer pulls of English enamel, light-colored inlay, and delicate inlaid swags on the sliding tambour front.
Then, at a local auction, I saw this:
Federal Style Inlaid Tambour Writing Desk.
Description: Circa 1900, bench made, white pine secondary, two-part form, upper case with unusual inlaid tambour doors featuring bell flowers and columns, opening to a divided and drawered interior with line inlays, hinged writing surface with felt lining, over two graduated cock beaded drawers with line and corner fan inlays, square tapered legs with repeating column and bellflower inlay.
Size: 46.25 x 34.5 x 18.5 in.
Condition: Missing one interior pull; tambour doors with separation at ends; later felt lining.
Different than the Seymour’s but in 1900, they might not have had plans by Robert Millard to work from.
One does have to wonder who made the reproduction in 1900? It was a time of colonial revival. But Federal revival?
We all are (I am) fascinated by the wonder and majesty of thin pins:
We all (I) need to get over it. It’s just joinery. It might take a bit more patience and/or skill but it is not better or stronger than chunkier less graceful pins. They were just showing off.
Take this desk on stand:
New England Queen Anne Tiger Maple Slant Front Desk on Stand
Description: Early 19th century, poplar and white pine secondary, dovetailed case, breadboard slant front lid with lipped edge, having loper supports, interior with pigeon-hole and drawered compartments, three graduated lipped drawers and applied molded trim, on a scalloped skirt stand, with later cabriole legs.
Size: 38 x 39 x 19 in.
Condition: Later legs and glue blocks; surface stains and tight shrinkage cracks to case; breakout and patch to lock; later pulls.
A minimalist gallery:
The gallery drawers show a healthy disdain for the fashionable thin pins:
The main drawers are equally chunky:
Why should the carcass dovetails be any different?
And no expense was spared in making of the back of this exceptional desk:
Maybe this desk is more to your liking:
Georgian Miniature Slant Front Desk
Description: Circa 1800, mahogany, oak secondary, hinged lid with divided and drawer interior having loper supports, over four graduated drawers with bracket foot base.
Size: 8.5 x 8 x 4 in.
Condition: No key; later pulls; insect damage.
I recently came across this chest on stand at an antique tobacco barn in Asheville, NC.
It is an odd form, relatively short, but I have seen other examples. A very plain stand with a simple cabriole leg and pad foot:
I looked at the top to see if perhaps it had been a chest on chest on stand. Not likely that it was a lower chest in that the two drawer over three drawer is not a configuration seen in lower chests. It is a fairly common configuration for the upper chest but it is too big for an upper chest.
It might not be the original base.
As I said, I looked at the top to see if there was any evidence of a previous life. What I saw was a little unusual. No evidence of and upper layer but some indication the builder liked to do more work than necessary:
But the case was joined with half blind dovetails:
In case work like this chest one would only expect to see half blind dovetails where one needs to conceal joinery like in the picture of the desk at the top of this blog page. In this chest, the joinery in hidden behind heavy crown molding:
There’s nothing wrong with what they did, it’s just unusual to see somebody doing more work than necessary. The through dovetail would have been easier, fast and stronger.
Originally published December 27, 2013 as Old friends in strange places.
Now that we have real internet connectivity, we have joined the rest of the country in finding more ways to waste time staring at various sizes of glowing screens. I was browsing Netflix looking for reruns of Law and Order or NCIS we might have missed when I saw that White Christmas (Paramount Pictures, 1954) was available. We watch this movie annually. I have come to believe that it is part of our marriage contract although, as often as I have reviewed our marriage license and vows, I cannot find it in writing.
Watching the movie reminded me of the below blog. It was one of my early ones and one that I was actually not ashamed of posting. Since many of you were not reading The Furniture Record back then, I thought I would repost it as a public service.
It’s just that good.
And here it is.
Old friends in strange places.
A few days back I was going my husbandly duty and watching Irving Berlin’s White Christmas for the nth time on the big screen TV with my wife. As you might know, the opening scene of White Christmas takes place in an undisclosed location in Europe at Christmas, 1944. The scene is an impromptu holiday concert for the battle weary, homesick GI’s staged by Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. When the beloved General Waverly arrives, Danny Kaye moves a music box onto a familiar looking stool.
In the recent past there was an article in Popular Woodworking on the construction of the Moravian stool. Jim Campbell, the founder of the Hillsborough Orange Woodworkers, decided it would be an interesting project for our Monday night work sessions. My function was largely to supply a heated/air-conditioned shop (with bathroom and snacks) and to stand there and looked horrified at all the people using power tools, usually my power tools.
And we built a bunch.A few months later I was researching the Moravian chair, a Moravian stool with a back. (Little known fact, this is the only piece of furniture that can legally have a cut-out of a heart as part of the decoration.) I came across a few articles pertaining to the German barracks stool, a knock-down variant of the Moravian stool. It typically has a two-piece seat supported by dovetailed battens, press in legs and pegged together.
Back to the story
The stool on which the music box is placed is a German barracks stool. Only a bit too pretty.
The piano player had one, too.
Although the movie was made nine years after the end of WWII, the set decorator or scenic artist actually expended the effort to see the type of furniture that could be found in abundance around European battlefields. Not a big deal but a nice touch.
My wife thinks I’m a bit weird.
Roy Underhill has an article with plans on the Moravian chair in this 1996 book The Woodwright’s Apprentice.
I took an hour off of my busy schedule on Friday to spend time at an auction preview. It was there that this question came to mind.
Many of you know and understand the question but for those who might not, let me provide some background information.
The product of this imagined unholy coupling is below:
Description: 1950s, bentwood beech frame, stitched leather back and seat with underside straps, unmarked.
This lot has sold for $1,600.
This auction featured more of what many call Modern Furniture or, in New York, Mid-Century Modern.
Description: 1960s, Norway, manufactured by Nesjestranda Mobelfabrik, teak crest rail/arms with finger joint, ‘Y’ formed back splay tapers into the turned rear spindle, black naugahyde seats on rounded tapered legs.
This lot has sold for $4,400.
Description: For J.L. Moller Mobelfabrik, Denmark, 1960s, top with banded edge and two pull-out extension leaves, on rounded tapered legs, labeled.
This lot has sold for $2,200.
Description: Herman Miller, Zeeland, Michigan, models 670 and 671 in black leather with black painted steel and aluminum swivel bases, labeled.
This lot has sold for $3,600.
Description: Designed by Mark Goetz circa 2000, molded walnut veneer frame with black leather upholstery, loose cushions raised on aluminum legs, unmarked.
This lot has sold for $2,600
Description: Early 20th century, beech, including a circular table with eight turned legs, ball finials, circular stretcher, and four arm chairs with flat single piece bent crest rail/arm, triple bent-rail back support, oval bent wood arm supports on eight turned legs with repeating bent wood stretcher, later velvet upholstery.
This lot has sold for $2,000.
Description: Baker, contemporary, hammered and patinated iron frame with stitched black leather upholstery, labeled.
This lot has sold for $550.
Description: Finland, 2003, model 400 chair in bentwood birch with Zebra style upholstery, together with an Artek circular side table, labeled.
This lot has sold for $2,300.
I have written before about how often I see something I haven’t seen before and then see another one just like it with a few hours or days. It just happened again.
I just returned from another trip to my own personal Purgatory, Las Vegas. Purgatory might not be quite the right word. I only go there if I get a check and, if I can figure out how to cash out a PNC Awards debit card, per diem.
The only non-stop flight from here to there on Sunday left at 7:45 AM getting me into Las Vegas before 10:30 AM. My hotel room was not available until 4:00 PM. The only thing I could do was visit four antique malls and a camera store having an amazing sale with manufacturer’s reps there to sell you more stuff. That and get lunch.
(Interesting note about the camera store. All the manufacturer’s reps were wearing black logo golf shirts. Except the Leica rep. He was wearing a Ralph Lauren Polo® Classic Fit Cotton Shirt with a Cardigan sweater casually thrown over his shoulders. Good margins on them Leicas. ) (There’s also a Leica store at the Forum Shops in Ceaser’s Palace. I know all the best places.)
At the first shop I saw this desk:
Two shops down the road, I came across this desk:
It’s been a busy few weeks. In the past six weeks I have been in Scotland for two weeks, Boston for four days, Asheville, NC for three days and Las Vegas for nine days. While home, I have been busy building Toys For Tots (fourth year) and buying a new car while the old one still works.
Needless to say, my sleep cycle has still not returned to what passes for normal. I fell down twice in the soggy highlands of Scotland. The first time I cleverly used my Nikon to keep my hand out of the mud. The second fall occurred on an actual slippery slope. I lost my footing and when I ran out of dance step, I landed square on my butt. It isn’t as well padded as I believed. This sent me back to a physical therapist. I do my stretches at bed time meaning I am falling asleep while resting between sets of abdominal/lumbar supine bent knee leg raise. (That’s what they call it.)
I have a lot of posts planned. I just need to stay awake long enough to get them out.
For me, one of the highlights of the auction season is the Country Store Auction in Mebane, NC. Not much in the way of furniture but tons of interesting stuff. The focus of the auction is things found in a country store, the merchandise found there-in and advertising of all sorts.
My favorites of favorites continues to be the foods or nominally edible products. Many unfamiliar products or familiar products in unfamiliar formats. Like soft drinks:
Then the are some adult drinks (non-alcoholic):
There was also other the counter remedies:
But, by far the largest category is something you don’t eat. Directly. I hope.
One thing this display points out is that there are no longer local brand in the number there once were. Consolidation has killed off local and regional brands. That and people used to buy a lot of lard.
You would need to buy one of these: