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Antiques Considered - June 26, 2013

The daughter of a Northern Neck lady has sent this picture of her Victorian settee that she would like to sell.  The wood is walnut, and she writes that it is carved in the Eastlake manner.  The two rear casters are missing, and reupholstering would be timely.  She notes that the piece also needs strengthening.

This settee undoubtedly was originally part of a parlor suite that included a gentleman’s chair, a lady’s chair, two or four side chairs, and probably a platform rocking chair.  Although it was the most important piece in the suite, not having the other units is a detriment.

The term “Eastlake” refers to the English designer, Charles Eastlake, who introduced the intaglio carving on pieces of furniture, thus any pieces with patterned line carvings in the wood are generally called Eastlake.

The missing casters could be replaced by calling Horton Brass or Ball and Ball Brass.  They should not be expensive, and would be necessary in selling the piece.

The upholstery is a horse of a different color.

The back and arms of the settee should be tufted.  Clearly the last upholstery job was an economy version that omitted the tufting.  To reupholster this piece properly would cost at least  $1000., and could go over $1500., depending on the fabric selected.

Obviously, the “strengthening” should come before the installation of the new fabric.

 As I have been running these projects off, the bill has been mounting.  In the end the cost of correct restoration would be far greater than the piece is worth.  As is, it is worth $100., due mainly to the good condition of the exposed frame.  Upon reupholstering, a maker’s name or label might be discovered, which could add to the value, but without finding one, the piece remains a generic type of Victoriana, and the value is limited.  This is a clear case where the most important value would be sentimental, and without that the rest is low.

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