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Friday, June 26, 2009

Renaissance Revival Secretary Desk (ca.1870)

Assembled desk after removing the finish I am currently in the process of applying the finish to the Renaissance Revival bed that I have been working on and have decided to hold off on showing photos of the project until I have photos of the completed project.

With this in mind I thought it time to write my first post on the Renaissance Revival secretary desk that is a companion to the bed. It is obvious that both pieces belong to a set and were made by the same manufacturer in the same time period. I have learned some additional things concerning these pieces as a result of removing the finish from the desk. the first is that the joinery work was still created by hand. This was a time that saw the mechanization of many things once done by hand, but there are several element of these pieces still created by hand.
The second thing I noted is that these pieces have definately been worked on previously and that the finish is by no means original. The finish that would have been used on pieces like these originally would be a French polish. This is the finish that I will be putting on the pieces.
The Desk is made primarily of Walnut with Poplar as a secondary wood. The use of poplar means tha this piece was made south of Pennsylvania since Poplars do not grow in northern climates enough to use as a secondary wood. In the north pine is traditionally used as a secondary wood.
the finish on the desk was in the same condition as the bed so I removed it. Once the finish has been removed I will make any necessary repairs, replace broken locks, replace the felt on the writing surface, and apply a new finish to the entire piece. Here are some photos of the removal of the finish:

A shelf with the finish removed next to one with the finish intact.

Repairing a crack in the finialRemoving the old felt from the writing surfaceThe writing surface with the felt removed and the finish removed from the lidTwo drawers before the finish was removedA close up of the crackled finish on one of the drawers A view of the side of the desk before the finish had been removed.A close up on the side of the deskThese are the supports for the desk lid. Removing them revealed that the one on the left came from another piece of furniture. My feeling is that this is not original and that when repairs were made and a replacement support needed, the cabinetmaker used walnut tha was at hand. In this case he ripped the piece from a larger baord with finish and gold paint on it.

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