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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Walnut and Chery Empire Pembroke Table (ca. 1840)

A table I recently worked on had a very interesting history that was revealed to me as the work progressed. The table is a Pembroke or drop leaf stand with one drawer. What was odd about this table was that the top had too much overhang, so much so that when standing next to the table you could not even see the drawer below. Here are three photos showing the table as it came into my shop. The finish on the top was damaged and needed to be refinished, but the base was okay so I decided to restore this finish. The photos show the condition of the piece.

This first photo shows the drawer concealed by the top.
Here is a photo of the drawer and the legs. Looking at the style of the turning on the legs, I was able to identify this piece as originating during the American Empire period.
This photo shows the damage to the top.
The first thing I noticed about this piece as I started to take it apart was that the top was made of Walnut and the base out of Cherry. The second was that where the leaf supports were cut out of the apron I noticed a pocket hole that was useless and pointed towards a previous application. Below is a photo of that pocket hole. The screw next to the hole holds the swinging leaf supports in place and has nothing to do with this pocket hole.
As I looked over the top I found some writing on the underside. it read:

"Repaired by R H Siler
Dec. 5th, 1935 West Manchester Ohio"

Here are three photos of the writing.

So the table was repaired in 1935. What I figure is that this table was originally a one drawer stand That was made entirely from cherry. I saw no evidence that it had originally been a Pembroke. In addition, the drawer sides and bottom as well as the knob and possibly the drawer front were all replaced. The drawer front was cherry, but it did not have any evidence of being re-purposed. The knob was oak. Why the top was made to overhang so much is beyond me, but perhaps the owner had a specific reason to have this done and had the top replaced.

Mr. Siler did a lot of work to this table.The base was loose and when I took it apart I could see that it had been loose before and all of Siler's repairs were evident. In some places the joinery was tight so I left it alone. Here is a photo of the base dismantled for cleaning.

This photo shows the base being glued up.
The top was made from a single board of Walnut. it had a nice dark color to it which matched the base very well so no stain was needed. The leaves were reclaimed wood that had been patched in places where there were nail holes. They needed to be stained to match the top. Here is a photo of the entire top after it was selectively stained.
The rest of the photos show the table after it was refinished. There are a couple of photos of the table with the top down and some with the top up. It is interesting to note that the table was made around 1840, repaired in 1935 and repaired again in 2011. Obviously this has been a very useful table over the years and hopefully my repairs will last at least 76 years!

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