Library table: Victorian or reproduction?

jlc102482March 28, 2012

I acquired this library table a little while ago. I really like it but I can't figure out if it's Victorian or if it's a reproduction. There's something about it that doesn't quite seem old enough- its color, for one, and the fact that it's rather lightweight for its size. The drawer especially is extremely light, unlike my other Victorian furniture with drawers. Here are some photos:


Side (each side is identical):

Closeup of hardware. I don't have the key but it appears fully functional. I also can't find any ghost of different hardware inside or outside the drawer.

Drawer construction:

Detail of leg from side:

The top is leather covered, which appears to have been redone recently. Please forgive the dust...this thing is a nightmare to clean!

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It's old.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:55PM
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Absolutely old, late Victorian, Eastlake with some Gothic revival details, typical of what you would find in that time period, trying to have a bit of everything. The hardware is correct & the drawer show handcut dovetails. The finish looks like it's had some kind of a wipe on reviver put on it at some time, you can see where it is on the sides of the pull. Nice piece.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:00PM
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That's good to know! Maybe it's the finish that's throwing's extremely shiny and quite red. Would that have been typical of that time period, or does it look redone? All the other Eastlake pieces I have look quite different, color and finish-wise.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:18PM
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the extremely shiny and bright reddish almost opaque finish was an attempt to emulate rosewood. I think it had someone spiff it up,but so long agothat the finish has alligatored.

the weight is probably because the furniture that was finished in semi-opaque varnishes was usually poplar or another lightweight, inexpensive wood.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:06PM
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Like everyone else, I think it's old. And I think when someone spiffed it up they didn't bother to remove the brass pull - the color seems to follow the general outline & not the actual indentations.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:41AM
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I have this table in about 3 versions. yes it's old, and it's been refinished or covered the original finish with some horrible dark finish. Mine are all the color of the wood you see in the chips, pretty much a light oak tone, very golden and pretty. They are light weight because they're simple side tables.

You can see around the handle that it's been badly refinished (many years ago because it's alligatored) but I'd suggest you dip it and then enjoy it in it's original light finish. It's a handy piece. I use them in multiple ways all over the house.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 8:07PM
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It's an Eastlake influenced side table, dating from about 1870 to possibly 1900. Obviously hand crafted and not a factory production model, one of a kind. That chip carving was done in a variety of woods, yours appears to me to be maple.
Likely a coat or 2 of orange shellac was applied to "enhance" the original finish. You can find out for sure by wiping a spot with shellac thinner.
Whatever you do, don't "dip it" will remove any remnant or original stain and perhaps some of the glue in the joints. Shellac is very easy to un-do....dipping is good for unimportant pieces with many coats of paint.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 10:50PM
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Lmao of for gads sake Linda. "obviously hand carved". I guess we get a higher quality of antiques in our region than your area does.

There is absolutely nothing to indicate hand over machine carving shown in these pics. In fact the style is a very mass produced style piece. I didn't say it was crap. I don't have crap in my home and I have three similar pieces. It's just been horribly abused (you see that in the uneven finish and the drips in the finish). It's a nice little piece but not worth spending hours of hand work on.

We also have wonderful furniture restorers in our area who can dip a piece and then refinish it to its original grandeur. Maybe we are just blessed.

Anyhoo op...nice piece, definately and antique...but it will not send your children/grand children to college. As I get it cleaned up and enjoy it. They are very useful pieces.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 1:34AM
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Seems that igloochic is not aware of the history of the Eastlake movement and that Charles Eastlake espoused hand crafted furniture that the workman could take pride in.

"Eastlake encouraged "honesty" in construction and finishing. He called for hand crafted, solid wood furniture with rectangular joinery. He condemned the practice of using stains and varnishes to disguise inexpensive woods, calling instead for oiled, naturally colored finishes. Eastlake Style furniture is frequently seen in antique shops all over the United States, but especially in the east and midwest. It was manufactured by factories in the east that had branch offices in midwest cities. Carpenters also made pieces of furniture from patterns in this style for their homes and for customers."

She also seems not to recognize hand done joinery, nor to know what dipping does to a piece of furniture that has never been painted.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to my quoted refrence

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 2:20PM
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It's of middling quality, but not bad. The upgraded version would have burl veneers on the drawer front and other small but prominent fields. It may have been offered in walnut as pictured (minus the subsequent red "polyshades" effect) in gilt wood, or ebonized. All three (among others) are valid period finishes for this style of furniture. Ebonized finish was extremely popular.
C.L. Eastlake on "Eastlake":
"I find American tradesmen continually advertising what they are pleased to call 'Eastlake' furniture, with the production of which I have had nothing whatever to do, and for the taste of which I should be very sorry to be considered responsible" [C.L. Eastlake, 1878]

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 9:20PM
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I'm curious to know how the conclusion was reached that it's hand- carved Eastlake influenced, rather than 'Eastlake style' and (per article linked) manufactured in one of the factories back east?

It's a nice table.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 7:11PM
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FWIW: Linda wrote, "hand crafted", not "hand carved." I don't think hand crafting means EVERYTHING has to be done by hand. If so, the furniture makers I know would have a rough time giving up their routers.....

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 4:47PM
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The OP didn't show any of the construction details but for the drawer with obviously hand done dove tailing.
Because the decoration on the table is not pure Eastlake in the simple version, I am guessing there is some Gothic Revival elements in there and that it's earlier than most of the mass produced Eastlake furniture that is commonly seen.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:51PM
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Thanks linnea. (I really need to quit postponing my eye exam.)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:20PM
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One of the UK variants of the Eastlake design movement was called "Modern Gothic". FWIW. Predictably, it incorporated established Gothic motifs in the designs.
As an American-made example of "Modern Gothic" Eastlake, I would peg this at 1883-4. But, smaller more downmarket shops were not always (ever?) using "Spring Vogue" to get the latest and best ideas of what was "in", it could be later. But those years were when this design was the hot number.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:10AM
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