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Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Signed Irish Regency One Drawer Stand (Ca. 1825)

A piece I am currently working on is a Regency one drawer stand or server made in Ireland by Gillington's of Dublin. Gillington's was a firm owned by George and Samuel Gillington and operated in several locations, mostly on Abbey Street in Dublin from 1815 to 1838. They produced tables, cabinets, and chairs in the Regency style and stamped their pieces with a Gillington's stamp followed by four numbers. The four numbers probably indicated a model number, rather than a production number. This stand is made of Honduran Mahogany with oak and pine used as a secondary wood. What is interesting about this is that it is very hard to differentiate an Irish or Scottish piece of furniture from an English piece. The joinery practices and the woods used are identical. This is a great instance of how a signature can give you solid details on the provenance of a piece. Below is a photo of the piece as it came to me.
Here is a photo where the stamped signature can be seen. The stamp is located on the top of the drawer front on the left side. The model number appears to be #5479.
One of the issues this table had was that the top had shrunk over time as all wood tends to do. At some point in it's life, possibly when it was first made, a patch was added to the back right hand corner of the top. It was nailed in place later in its life, and then as the top contracted the patch got separated from the top, but was still held on by the nail which connected it to the leg below. I will show the repair to the top below.
Also due to the contraction of the top, the underside was missing several glue blocks, and the blocks that attached the top to the back had moved about 1/8th of an inch away from the back. Perhaps this top shrunk when it came across the Atlantic and moved to a different climate! Anyway, the result of all of these loose and missing blocks was a loose top. Some prior repairman had "solved" the problem by nailing the top on. this can lead to separation and cracking so the proper repair is to replace the missing glue blocks and add material to the ones that had moved. The photo below shows a glue block separated from the back.
This photo shows all of the blocks and the missing ones on the right side of the photo. There was also a missing block on the left side as well.
For the blocks that connected the back to the top, I cut shims to fill the gap as seen in the photo below. The shims were trimmed to size and glued in place using a hide glue, the glue originally used on the piece.
Here is a photo showing the new glue blocks being glued in place.
This photo shows the top being glued down as well as the the patch mentioned above being glued in place. the patch was only attached to the top so that it can move freely with the top as it expands and contracts.
This photo is a close up of the patch being glued back on.
With the clamps and blocks removed the patch is attached to the top. the hole left by the nail will be filled later on.
Another problem was that the drawer runners and interior runners were extremely worn, making it hard to open and close the drawer. In an effort to keep as much as possible original on this piece, I decided to remove the interior runners and flip them so that the flat surface is in contact with the drawer bottom. below is a close up photo of how the interior runners were dished out.
These last two photos show the interior runners being glued in place. The next post will detail the restoration of the finish.

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