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Antiques Considered - December 4, 2013

This Sheraton lady’s work table belongs to a family from the Northern Neck The wood is cherry and tiger maple, with poplar secondary wood. The construction is interesting as the top is hinged at the rear, and opens to reveal compartments for the various sewing implements and threads. The family had the table refinished many years ago, but otherwise it is in original condition.

Work tables always are popular, and this one is a fine example of the genre. The legs are well turned, and the maple pilasters on the sides of the cabinet show a level of sophistication on the part of the cabinetmaker. The hinged top is unusual, and adds a new dimension as it is an innovation adapted to the purpose of the table. In other words, this table is not a nightstand, although it could be used for that purpose.

Not knowing what the condition of the previous finish was, makes difficult determining how the refinishing has affected the value of the table. For the past generation purists have denigrated pieces that have lost their original finishes. As a rule I do also, but the caveat to that position is to realize how poorly the piece might have appeared prior to restoration.

Provenance is an important consideration with respect to refinishing. If the piece belonged to a famous person, or was made by a recognized cabinetmaker, the finish is more important than if that information is unknown. Here the present finish has a clean look to it, albeit a bit shiny, but that aspect will diminish as time passes.

In its present restored condition the table is worth $275. The lines are good, and the wood tone is attractive, but I advise against having other pieces refinished without consulting a professional to ascertain how the process would affect the overall value. Always remember, refinishing cannot be undone.
Happy Antiquing!

Henry Lane Hull
Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
P.O. Box 35
Wicomico Church, VA 22579
Cell:  804.580.0514
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www.commonwealthantiques.com

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