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The Essential guide to antique chests

Chest of Drawers as an object of furniture holds a unique place in the hearts.
In fact generations of people were raised with the term “top drawer” to refer to an item of the finest quality or provenance, as well as “bottom drawer” is referring to a young woman’s collection of napery, silver, or bedclothes for use following her wedding.

Histories of Antique Chests

As with all furniture, chests are adapted to the changing fashions, tastes and methods of manufacture through the 17th century to the 19th century that spans 12 monarchies’ reigns. The first examples show the influence of continental Europe that was prevalent during the period of Charles II (1660-1685) after the restoration of the monarchy. They reflect the last flourishes of the English Baroque. It was during this time that we see the transition from joining to cabinetmaking.

Charles II brought crafters from Europe who introduced European techniques employing readily available timbers like pine and oak to make the carcass. The wood is after that, they veneered it with the finer walnut, or similar materials, occasionally with marquetry panels.

The chest of oak is enhanced with yew wood bandings as well as wood panels made of exotic hardwoods laid out in a geometric design. It could have been constructed by dividing it into two pieces for the ease of transport and mobility within a residence and was likely to be delivered to a manor home or similar.

The antique chest of drawers are built with wide sides to hold the runners on the sides and big nails to keep them together, with the bottom also secured with nails.

Within a quarter of century, changes in all aspects of furniture were obvious also, and as we go through the reigns of William and Mary (1689-1702) and on to the reign of queen Anne (1702-1714) what a difference! things have changed.

Chests on stands were removed from favor and were replaced by chests on chests or tallboys.

They generally featured a flat cornice and a middle moulding to cover up the gap between two sections, which were separate in the upper and lower. Utilizing veneers has become the norm in furniture made from cabinetry and the bulkiness in the drawers was diminished to a sleeker design which was decorated by designs of veneers, instead of mouldings or panels.

The most typical example of the change is the Queen Anne period chest with the patterns with oyster veneers made of laburnum. The name is because when two consecutive cuts of the branches were laid in a book-like in a book-like fashion, the pattern created resembles the internal patterns of an oyster shell. These straight legs of long corner stiles in the earlier chest were replaced by turned bun feet, and the drawer sides which were previously nail-nailed being held together by dovetailed joints.

Also, a change was made in the manner the drawer’s bottom was secured. While it was previously secured by clout nails it is recessed to the sides, back and the front of the drawer, thus, the bottom edges become runners.

In the 18th century, around mid-century, French Rococo pieces, featuring a bulbous shape with wavy sides and fronts often referred to as bombe chests were popular. In England we see a lot of massive, lavishly decorated and carved serpentine commodes presses, or chests, in a variety of designs books, such as Chippendale’s Director as well as Ince along with Mayhew’s creations however, in this case we can see the more softer impression in George Hepplewhite or Shearer’s designs.

English examples of the time were less slack and had a simple front.

Beginning in the middle of 1800s, it was more typical for the grain of the bottom of the drawer to be a continuous line from side to side instead of forward and back as it used to be. Cockbeading is a thin lip that adorns the front of the drawer was a well-loved moulding that was popular in the 1760s.

The Age of Mahogany

After the 1800s, the following advancement was the drawer bottoms that slide into place from the rear of the drawer through an opening that was cut through the drawer’s sides. The transition from mahogany to walnut gradually occurred.

In in the year 1730, mahogany began to be more frequently transported from the Caribbean and was accompanied by more varieties of exotic woods that came from South America.

From in the 3rd quarter century the straight-fronted mahogany chest is decorated with the top of the crossed with rosewood, adding to its appeal, as is a pull-out brushing slide beneath the top drawer and above that drawer’s top. Bun feet are now replaced by bracket feet with modern swan neck handles.

Its purpose, whether it was for an office or reception space isn’t known however the fast-growing market for high durable furniture of high quality was immense, and there were centers of excellence in the manufacture of furniture in a variety of cities.

The Secretaire Chest

As we move closer to 19th-century, I’m impressed by the creativity of artisans. Utilizing only hand tools under daylight or candles they were able to insert a myriad of characteristics into an item.

This would’ve made pleasure to listen to conversations between patrons and makers during George III’s reign , maybe requesting an antique chest, but looking for a place to write within it too. This was not a bureau not it was a chest!

The Secretaire Chest of Drawers was created. It combines both needs The top drawer featuring the front opening hinged to reveal an upholstered writing surface that was lined with leather. It also has an arrangement of drawers with satinwood veneers and pigeon holes to the side. The drawers were positioned on delicate, splayed brackets that were joined by a bow-shaped Apron. The obround-shaped veneer panels look very attractive and help identify this as belonging to the final decade of the 18th century.