Help translating old ‘furniturese’

The interior of an 18th century desk (top) shows how valanced pigeonholes can be used to conceal an unsuspected drawer (bottom).

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – In my line of work I spend a lot of quality time with my second favorite nonhuman companion, my computer. (My favorite, of course, is the Harley.) I am on pretty good terms with my computer, but occasionally one of us needs an attitude adjustment and that’s when I call on my friend Bob, who is a computer tech.

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Gallery Report: May 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report:

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Wood veneer: cutting it a little too thin

This striking effect is called ‘oyster’ veneer. Instead of slicing a piece of wood lengthwise it is cut cross grain.

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – In the last 50 years or so veneer has gotten a bad rap in the furniture trade. Somehow, back in the 1960s and 1970s veneer became associated with, and in many cases actually blamed for, some of the absolute garbage that was being manufactured at the time. But it probably goes back farther than that. That attitude is a holdover from the Depression era that is lodged in the minds of the children of the time. They remember some of the furniture their parents bought back in those dark days.

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Gallery Report: April 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report:

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Gallery Report: March 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report: Read more

Understanding vintage furniture’s shifting values

This coffee table was one of the few pieces of furniture my wife’s grandmother bought new in the early 1930s. Since inheriting the table it has lived everywhere she has, including college housing. Is it valuable? You better believe it is to her.

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – A while back I presented the second most often asked question regarding older and antique furniture. That question: “Will I destroy the value if I refinish it?” I chipped in my two cents on this subject at that time, trying to soften the Antiques Roadshow hard-line attitude about original finishes by applying what we called in the 1980s “situational ethics.”

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Furniture makers’ uncharted routes to success

The Mersman triangle mark, or a close relative, was imprinted on 30 million American tables.

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – Few of us are probably doing what we thought we would be doing 30 years ago. Things happen along the way and unforeseen turns make life interesting if not always predictable. Sometimes one of the things that can make an older or antique piece of furniture more interesting is the value added by a little bit of eccentric knowledge about where the piece came from and how it came to exist.

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Gallery Report: February 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report: Read more

Tool marks on antique furniture: where to find them and why

Close comparison of the spindles of this Empire/transitional chair reveals the variations produced by handwork in ‘identical’ turnings. Since we expect them to be identical they appear to be until inspected and measured.

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – When field cut lumber, recently converted from timber, finally reached the 18th century cabinetmaker’s shop, his main tasks were to cut and shape the wood to his own design and to smooth the surface. He and his journeymen and apprentices accomplished these tasks with an amazingly small array of hand tools, some of which would be familiar to us today and some that many of us would have no idea how to employ.

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Gallery Report: January 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report:

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