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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Signed Edwardian Wardrobe (1902)

The Completed Wardrobe
 The period in furniture history known as Edwardian lasted form 1901 to 1910 and coincides with the reign of Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria. The style shows a clear movement away from the more ornate and richly carved Victorian furniture of the previous century, a change that had been set in motion in the later half of the 1800's. What this style came to embrace were clean lines an largely unadorned furniture. Exemptions to this would be floral motifs. The general idea was to bring to the consumer furniture that was uplifting and cheery. The wardrobe that I worked on was no exception to these ideas. The piece was made of Mahogany and American Tulip Poplar and for the most part followed a rectilinear form. The cornice featured egg and dart molding and the broken arch pediment and upper panels on the side doors featured carving in keeping with the Edwardian design aesthetic.

Overall the piece was in working order and beyond general repairs, the main issue was that the wood had bleached on the exterior to a light yellow color. The interior was largely spared from this, but portions had lightened up a bit. After examining the finish, I decided to retain the original finish and stain into it to try to bring the exterior color in line with the interior. Below are a few photos of the wardrobe as it was when it entered the shop.

As stated above, there were several repairs to be made. The first was a large portion of the corner of the cornice that was missing. below are two photos of the damage.

I cut patches and cut away an area of the cornice to receive the patches. Below is a photo of the patches being glued in place.
The completed repair, made from two patches, sanded and ready for stain.
The broken arch pediment had once had a finial. The finial had probably been knocked off at some point and lost. In the process, the mortise for the finial had been broken out on the backside of the pediment. below is a photo of the damage.
The next two photos show the mahogany patch being glued in place. after it was glued, it was pared down and later a new finial was put in place.

this photo shows a panel that covers the back side of the mirror being repaired.
Likewise, this next photo shows repairs made to the case.
The astragal molding that was glued to the center door overlapping the edge of the adjacent door was loose and broken. the lower edge of the molding had broken off and was missing, so it was patched as seen in the photos below. The molding was then glued back in place.

This photo shows the two outer doors. The panels were removed for staining. The one on the right has been stained while the one on the left shows the bleached color.
The central door pivoted on two knife hinges, one on the top of the door and one on the bottom. The basic idea is that there are two rectangular plates of brass that are drilled out so that one can be screwed into the edge of the door and the other into the case. They have another larger hole drilled on one side. the plate on the door side gets a metal pin fixed in it and the other does not. once the pin is inserted and the door is hung, the door opens by pivoting on this pin, one on the top of  the door and one on the bottom.

The hole on the receiving plate with no pin on the bottom side of the door and inserted in the case had become worn and enlarged. It was made from brass and was taking the full weight of the door. Below is a photo of the hinge part with the worn hole all of the way to the right in the photo.
I decided to remove this whole part and replace it. I replaced it with a part I fabricated myself, but instead of brass, I used steel which will wear better. The replacement part can be seen in the photo below below the original. This allowed the door to swing freely.
These last repair photos show a strip of beading I made used to hold the floating panels in place in the door. The replacement beading is on the left and is unstained in the photos.

These next couple of photos are of the completed wardrobe with the restored finish and the pediment attached.

As stated in the title of this post, the wardrobe was signed. It reads "J Westhead of 174 Friargate Preston Oct 11/02" . Mr. Westhead was a cabinetmaker in Preston, England, which is a town in Lancashire not far from Blackpool. The piece was completed on October 11th of 1902. The piece was signed on the bottom of one of the short linen drawers held in the right side of the case. The large 5 written in pencil indicated the placement of the drawer in the case and has nothing to do with the signature. below are some photos of the signature.

Since Mr. Westhead wrote his address down I decided to look him up! Unfortunately, 112 years is a long time to be in business and he must have moved on. Currently, in his old shop is a Mcdonald's restaurant as seen in the photo below. Perhaps Mr. Westhead had a shop on the ground floor and lived above. At any rate, it is great that he signed his piece and added to the rich history of this fine wardrobe.

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