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Antiques Considered - March 3, 2010

A local gentleman recently purchased this lady's work table.  The mahogany veneer was in poor condition, and the piece has been refinished, with the missing veneer having been replaced.  The secondary wood is yellow pine.   He thinks the hardware are replacements, but the casters are original.
This work table dates from the mid-19th century, between 1840 and 1860.  As readers are aware, I usually recommend not refinishing antique furniture, but in this instance, with the need to replace missing veneer, refinishing does not have such a negative effect.  I say that because most individuals would not like having a piece of furniture with chunks of missing veneer in their homes.  In time the sheen of the new finish will dull down and not be so obvious.

The lines of the table are excellent, and show the transition from American Empire to Victorian.  The solid base has good form, and the drawer fronts are well proportioned.  I too suspect that the knobs are replacements.  One way to tell is to look at the screws that hold them to see if they appear more modern.  If they are rusted, and are in their original holes, the probability is that they are original.  The use of mahogany veneer on yellow pine is typical of the mid-Atlantic workmanship of the period, but without a label one cannot ascribe a precise place of origin.
The term "lady's work table" denotes the original purpose of the piece, namely to hold a lady's sewing materials.  Often one of the drawers would be fitted for specific spools and other implements, and sometimes the bottom drawer would have a fabric basket underneath to hold the sewing or crocheting pieces that were in progress.   These pieces were intended for formal parlors where the lady of the house could work on her projects after dinner while the gentleman read or played billiards.      
As work tables go, this one is superior to most, both as to design and construction.  It is worth  $350.  If the knobs prove to be original, add another $75. Were it in pristine, original condition, it would be $600.
    Happy Antiquing!
Lisa and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. (P.O. 35) Wicomico Church, VA 22570. Write to him there or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with pictures and descriptions of items.

 

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