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Antiques Considered - April 28, 2010

This worktable comes from an e-mail from Middlesex County.  It is a mixed wood two-drawer table that has been refinished. Apparently, it had deteriorated badly, and was brought back to its present condition many years ago.
The table is of Sheraton design, and dates from the 1830s.  The turning on the legs is particularly fine.  The primary woods are cherry and maple, the drawer fronts being the latter.  The top demonstrates the extent to which it underwent refinishing.
The secondary wood is poplar, and the white porcelain knobs are not original.  The original ones were either brass or glass.  I advise replacing them accordingly as a way of restoring the piece to its maker’s design.

Clearly this table began life as a sophisticated piece of Sheraton furniture, most likely as a lady’s worktable in which she kept her sewing materials.  As years passed it lost its lustre, and came to be used for more mundane purposes.  During that time the pristine quality was lost, then it was “discovered,” and someone restored it.
At present, aside from the Victorian white porcelain knobs being incorrect, it is a nice piece of furniture, and still reflects well on the cabinetmaker who produced it.  The table is worth $325.  If it still existed in its original state, the value would be more than double.
This piece offers a good illustration of the question of whether to refinish or not.  Here, quite obviously, the piece had deteriorated to a point where it would not be suitable to be on display in a home, and restoration was in order.  When I speak against the process of refinishing, I always mention that people live with their things, and if they are not to their liking due to damage or accumulated dirt, refinishing might be the only option.
Happy antiquing!
Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. 22570. (P.O. 35). Wicomico Church, VA 22570. Write to them there or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with pictures and info on items.

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