Paine Furniture Company Desk

woodsy_1 Zone 5b IllinoisFebruary 10, 2011

I purchased this desk recently. I can't find much information on Paine Furniture Company, and what I can find is leaving me extremely cautiously optimistic.

I know that more information is better than less, so I'm posting numerous pictures. I merged what pics I could so as not to bog things down too much. First, a pic of the desk:

A closeup of the dovetails. You can also see that the drawer fronts are made from a solid piece, no veneer:

Some detail shots. The manufacturer's label, which is made from a different wood and inlaid into the drawer side. The hardware, which is very thin. A detail pic of the carvings, which appear (possibly) to have been done by hand. Finally, the fittings in the left side drawer.

Pictures of the top, which is quite honestly a mess. Thankfully it's solid, with no veneer. Upper left is a pic of cigarette burns that are on both sides. These are the worst of the bunch. Upper right, a dowel plug of which there are two, a few inches in from the sides along the back. Lower left shows another patch that goes completely through the top. Again there are 2, about a foot in from the sides. There are screw holes in the back of the desk directly below the patches. Lower right is a bad picture of the top. If you squint, you can see the patches.

I tried to get a good picture of the finish, but I couldn't. The seller said he had a furniture refinishing business in the past, and the thing to do would be to give it a coat of poly. Yikes! He also said his wife had redone the desk in some way. I fear it has poly on it, which looks like it was rolled on. Double yikes!!

All of that said, how should I treat this piece? If it has any value whatsoever, I'd like to maintain it. At any rate, a more period appropriate finish is definitely in order. I need to know what period!

On to the patches. I'm pretty sure there may have been a top piece of some sort. Would have that have been original or some rigged-up add-on? What might it have looked like? We'd like to build a piece for the top and want it to be appropriate. I wish sometimes I wasn't such a purist. Life would be so much easier.

Thanks in advance for any information you can share. I should mention that I only paid $35.00 for this desk and will use it in my living room, so I'm already ahead. I just have a weird thing about knowing the history of things.

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Lovely desk! Have you tried contacting the company for more information? It now seems to be "Paine's Patio" which looks to be the same company, judging by the lettering on the wagon in this pic:

Here is a link that might be useful: Paine

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 6:55PM
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woodsy_1 Zone 5b Illinois

Chloe, thanks for your response. Contacting the company was definitely in the plan until I read this on the Paine site:

"Unfortunately during several moves over the past few years, most of the records and archives have been lost or are unaccounted for. As we try to gather this information together, we will be happy to pass it along. However, identifying items and giving time frames as well as values is next to impossible at this point."

So I came here hoping someone could give me some insight. My research is going nowhere.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 9:28AM
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It's a lovely federal style mahogany desk. But I believe a reproduction....but a 100 year old reproduction.
The Paine Furniture company of Boston made very nice, exacting reproductions of furniture of a hundred years earlier. They were making colonial reproductions in the late 19th century.
However any example I can find of the label is a brass plate not inlaid wood.
I think that your desk probably did have a top likely would have cubby holes and have been about 8 inches deep and about 12 to 14 inches tall.
So.... I believe what you have is and antique, antique reproduction!!
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 9:28AM
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woodsy_1 Zone 5b Illinois

Lindac, we posted at the same time. Thanks so much for replying. Antique, antique reproduction...LOL! I pretty much knew the reproduction part, but the age is a pleasant surprise.

I have seen many brass labels. The site mentions embroidered cloth, paper, and burned in tags, but nothing about inlaid wood.

Thanks as well for the info on the top piece. I have looked at so many pictures of bonheurs I'm crosseyed! I'd love to find a top piece, but I think we'll go ahead with building one. DH is itching to start as soon as I come up with a design. Your measurements are helpful.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 9:47AM
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Here's a picture. You may not want to do the Tambour closer...but....

Here is a link that might be useful: Federal desk

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 10:27AM
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Nice desk, and well worth stripping off the crappy poly and fixing the burns, maybe with a good veneer.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 6:31PM
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woodsy_1 Zone 5b Illinois

I didn't run away, I've been gone for the weekend.

Lindac, thanks so much for the link! The whole site is amazing. It gives me many ideas.

Lazygardens, the poly will definitely be stripped. Veneer is a definite possibility. Other things we've considered are a leather top or a veneer/top combo. We'll also look at the underside of the top when we take it off. It may be doable to flip it over. There would still be patching and sanding, but there are no burns to contend with. We shall see.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 10:16AM
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don't veneer nor leather the top....just scrape out the worst of the charred wood and consider it part of the distressing/age marks of the piece.
Don't further "ruin" it my putting a new top on it.
Linda c

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 12:01PM
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This will be of limited help, but wanted to point out that Paine furniture company was on arlington St in Boston and closed its doors in the 90's. I used to work for the oriental rug section of it. It was the oldest furniture store in the country. A restaurant moved into the building and still has the Paine Furniture plate outside the entrance. There's another location of the store in Natick, mass.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 10:36AM
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I have a mid-size 5 drawer chest that's made of solid wood. It has a dark finish that looks original, small metal wheels and locks on each of the drawers. The drawer fronts are dove tailed into the sides. There is a Paine Furniture Company label pasted on the back. There's also a stenciled serial number 65-532 just above the label.

I'm wondering how old it is. Thinking maybe 1940's? Google hasn't been very helpful - yet.

Anyone have any ideas?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 12:45PM
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