|The Completed Linen Press|
The linen press, or cabinet on chest, is a furniture form primarily found in England that became popular in the early part of the 18th century and remained in use well into the 19th century. The purpose was the storage of houshold linens like table linens, etc. Most examples will have a chest of drawers on the bottom with a cabinet housing several open drawers on top. I assume that the purpose of the open drawers was to store the table linens and the closed drawers below were for other household items. By open drawer, I mean that the drawer was shallow and more like a tray. The front of the drawer was lower than the sides allowing one to view the contents easily. These drawers would be concealed behind the closed doors, keeping dust out. With the addition of the lock on the door, the contents were also kept safe.
The linen press I recently worked on was a 19th century example, made of mahogany as the primary wood. The secondary woods used in the piece were pine and oak. The finish was in a restorable condition, but the piece needed work like replacement of cockbeading and drawer work. The internal drawers described above that would go in the cabinet were missing and in their place were mahogany shelves that were unfinished and suspended on screws driven into the sides of the case. there were lots of other repairs and the finish was cleaned and restored as well.
Below are a few photos of some of the work followed by photos of the completed linen press.
The left door on the cabinet had a piece of astragal molding that was attached to the door frame on the side that abutted the right door. This molding's purpose was to cover the gap between the two doors. At some point a large portion of this molding had broken from the door frame. The photo below shows the molding being reattached to the frame. The dusty appearance on the finish of the door is the dried mineral spirits applied to the case at the outset of the work, The purpose of the application of mineral spirits to a finish is to clean old wax and dirt from the finish. Once this is done new finish can be applied to the old without the interference of the dirt and wax, causing a better chemical bond between the two finishes.