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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cedar Lawn: French Empire Style Pier Table ( Ca.1980)

The Restored Pier Table
 Another piece I have recently restored for the Cedar Lawn estate in Jefferson County, West Virginia is a pier table made in the style of the French Empire period. I dated it's manufacture to 1980, but it is only a guess at its age. While being a reproduction, this is certainly a good one. The hardware was all nicely detailed and cast well. The primary wood used is Mahogany and good Honduran Mahogany was selected for the piece. The top is made of Poplar, pointing towards American manufacture, which was ebonized. Portion of the columns were also ebonized and gilt with a bronzing powder. The term "Ebonized" refers to staining a piece of wood with black stain to mimic the appearance of Ebony. The look is different from painting, in that the grain of the wood is visible through the black stain and once stained the wood is coated with finish the same as the rest of the piece.

The condition of this piece was pretty good overall, but there was significant damage to the finish on the ebonized top and the Mahogany sections had a cracked and tired finish, the gilt and ebonized portions on the base had flaked off revealing the Mahogany wood beneath. Structurally, the table needed little work and it only had minor cosmetic damage. Here is a photo of the table as it came to me.
Before going on, a little history on the Pier table. A pier table is a table usually placed between two windows. I do not think that the form is found much earlier than the early 19th century, and most are made in the style of French Empire. Many pier tables are made with a large mirror set between the two back legs. An interesting myth cropped up surrounding the use of this mirror which is debunked by another blogger here:


Now back to the restoration. Below is a photo of the table with  the finish removed and the surface sanded and prepped for a new finish.
The first thing I did was to stain the Mahogany portions of the table, as seen in the two photos below. As stated above the top was made from Poplar and appears very light in these photos.

The next two images show the top after it was ebonized.

This last photo shows the completed piece with the hardware attached and ready for delivery.

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