|The Completed Chest|
The chest on chest or double chest is, as the name states, a chest stacked on a second chest. Today the form is seen in one piece construction but originally it would have been composed of two separate chests. The bottom chest is slightly larger in most forms and has molding attached to the top which hides the joint where the top is stacked. The upper chest is capped with a molded pediment that gives a bit of lift and completion to the form.
The chest I recently worked on dates to the fourth quarter of the 18th century. Three details point towards this time period. The first is the use of a straight bracket foot on the bottom, which appears in case pieces during that period. The second indication is the orientation of the drawer bottoms from left to right, instead of front to back. This orientation was a development of the second half of the 18th century and the change was made so that the wood could expand and contract easier and less cracking would occur due to humidity changes. The third indication of age is the use of brass cased locks in the drawers. All of the locks are present in this piece and appear to be original. The use of brass cases over iron cases originated during this period. Beyond the dating of the chest I can tell by the construction methods and the woods used that this chest on chest was produced in England.
The piece as it came to me was in need of a new finish. The existing finish was modern and had begun to deteriorate. There were also several routine repairs one would expect to see in an 18th century piece of furniture. Below are a few photos of the piece during the repair process followed by two photos of the completed chest on chest.
These first few photos show the chest on chest as it was when it came into the shop.
Many of the drawers were missing the cockbeading that frames the drawer faces. This was all replaced and any loose beading was glued in place. a replaced section is seen in the photo below.
Once the glue had dried, the wedge was pared flush to the top using a combination of a smoothing plane and a hand chisel.
This photo shows the top half of the chest after the repairs were made and the entire piece was sanded. The chest on chest was selectively stained to match the natural color of the wood on the drawer fronts.
Contrary to what most people would assume, This panel was not meant to be used as writing surface, but the purpose was to have a surface to lay out clothes for brushing off, hence the name brushing slide.
The slide in this piece had warped and the felt that was on the piece was frayed and loose in many places. The existing felt can be seen in the photo below.