What can you tell me about this linen press?

kpaquetteSeptember 9, 2009

I bought it about 12 years ago in York, ME from an antique shop that said only that it was English and 1840s. I know nothing about the style or wood (it's veneer, there's a spot that is bubbling at the top.) Any help would be appreciated!

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It looks like a lovely 1840 English Linen press to me!
What's to know?
Linda c

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 11:25AM
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your dove tails are hand done & not machine done(which would back up dating from the antique shop in ME.) It looks to me as the only piece with veneer is the top, I believe the top piece is not original and maybe redone as a repair. It is a very beautiful piece!!!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 12:38PM
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Wendy already mentioned the dovetail joints (where sides of drawers meet front/face)
Long shot guess but without seeing it up close perhaps Mahogany or Flame Mahogany, a popular South American or West Indies import. (I mention flame because of the grain pattern just above the upper two drawers.) Plus the red hue. It's not oak (lack of strong pronounced grain.) Not walnut, not enough of that dark 'blotchy' (my term) grain pattern and too red. Not pine, no knots in the grain. That, of course, is all just my humble .02. ;)

What's throwing me off is the rotund bun feet and round knobs versus the more angled and sculpted design of the top. Also most linen press photos I've seen with round feet have more wood turning details incorporated into the foot design. Made me think your piece's feet/knobs might not be original to the piece. But I do have doubts about that theory, and the reasons are because the color and patina are too close a match to the rest of it. Unless it's a very old change/repair. But then I located a couple pictures of English blanket chests, from mid 1700's to 1840, they had the exact or nearly exact style feet. (scroll halfway down that page) So perhaps those are original.
I was typing and searching while Wendy was posting, so now I'm wondering if maybe that's what's throwing me off. The top is not original?

That's about all I have to offer. markmizzou could probably elaborate more on the wood if he sees this.
You have a lovely piece of furniture there, for sure!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 1:15PM
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The press looks like cherry to me....but that's most often an American wood. I might say pine, pine isn't always knotty..yellow heart pine can have a lovely clear grain. But it;'s still soft....and there is no evidence of denting...I suspect something like poplar? I can't see the wood enough to see if it's an opaque stain or not
I hadn't thought about the crown and corbeilles being replacements....but that's sure possible.
The bun feet are very typical of solid plain wood furniture of that era.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 1:39PM
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I'd never considered it, It's entirely possible the feet are not original - in fact, each one of them is slightly different from the other, with the left front one being VERY different. (It doesn't have the line going through the middle like the other 3 do, and they are all slightly different in size.) But they do match VERY well and so probably would be an old change.

The left front:

The front/back right

I do think the top is original - only because the veneer matches exactly. I think it IS flame mahogany. There is veneer on the top of the bottom half, just above the drawers, which matches the veneer on the top half, in between the wood blocks on the ends.

Closeup of the upper panel, if it helps with anything:

I do think the veneer around the very top, including the part that is bubbling, is an older repair. That wood doesn't match the others.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 4:19PM
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I thi9nk the feet are original....and, of course, hand turned...the reason for the difference.
And upon a closer look, I agree...mahogany, with some flame grain.
But those corbeilles are a puzzle...are they on the doors? Or on the little flat blocks below the doors?
Where are the doors hinged? Have you looked for a secret compartment?...what's inside those corner blocks?
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 5:17PM
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Hi Linda,

The corbeilles are on the doors themselves. I thought maybe someone could tell me about them - I haven't seen them on furniture before and thought they might be indicative of a particular style? The doors are hinged on the upper and lower of each door on the outside - if you look close in the first picture you can see them to the side. If you want me to take pics of the hardware let me know. The blocks are stationary - and I haven't found any compartments inside the blocks, as far as I know they are just for decoration. But I'll look tomorrow. :-)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 9:13PM
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What's inside the area above the drawers??

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 11:17PM
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The area above the drawers is just shelving. Here it is with the doors open - you can see the blocks in this pic

Here is the hardware. The lower left block in this pic.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 4:43PM
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See that block under the shelf? And the area below the shelf?
What's inside there?
Those screws are telling me that very probably the corbielles are added later.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 11:21PM
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This made me wonder about secret compartments in general. Found a fascinating article on it. Even for expert's it's tricky finding the. I can't direct link, will have to copy paste this:

Today, sensible people keep their current funds in banks and their stocks and bonds and the like in safe-deposit boxes. But these have been in existence only since the turn of the nineteenth century...Before that, the man of property secured his movable possessions against thieves as best he could in strongboxes and cleverly concealed places of hiding in furniture and behind secret panels that, like the modern safe combination, baffled the outsider.

I'm not going off on a tangent ;) The reason I posted all that is because since Linda C keeps asking I've been staring at the center. DH is a hobby woodworker and has made some furniture pieces so I've been able to see the process from the ground up. That is a funky situation there. If there is nothing in the space between the top and bottom, it's just a dead pocket of air that would really serve no purpose. (It doesn't make sense that it would be put there for support.) So maybe there is something hidden in there!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 6:41AM
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hahaha ok now I'm intrigued. I just was upstairs looking at all the blocks - I don't see anything that might be a secret compartment. Linda, Which shelf are you talking about?

The screws are holding on both the corbeilles and the door panels, and they all match, so it looks like they were added later as a repair. (the screws, that is.)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 7:23AM
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There is an area below the bottom shelf with a square protrusion on each end that apperas to be just dead space.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 9:57AM
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Those protruding areas on each side, between top and bottom, that Linda points out do look sort of like they could be little cubby holes. But I'm looking at the wood piece in between those two protruding pieces as well. It acts as a top and bottom separator of sorts. That entire section would be just dead space if there's nothing in it, and it's not really adding anything decorative, and doesn't appear to be needed for support, so why is it there in the first place? (Picture the linen press without the center piece w/protrusions on the end, it makes a little more sense viewed that way.) ;-)

Be sure to check out that link I posted in my last post above. It seems like a long read, but lists some of the tricks for finding hidden spaces, location and size. Mostly about desks, but one was about a chest, had a hidden spring mechanism above a drawer that accessed a secret compartment at the top, only accessible via pulling out drawer all the way. Some of those hidden compartments are very tiny, btw!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 11:08AM
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OOOh Ok I see what you're saying - it's not dead space. It looks like it is but really the clothes are stacked - those jeans are not the only thing on the shelf - there are 2 other pairs underneath them. So the bottom shelf is actually on the bottom of the top part of the piece - there isn't any dead space. I probably am not explaining that very well LOL. But I will hunt around for secret compartments. ;-)

If you look at the blocks from the inside, there are triangular wooden braces in the corner, at each block.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 12:36PM
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Gotcha. I think. ;)
So the lowest shelf with the jeans is actually deeper than we can see? There is more clothing under the jeans on the far lower left? Triangular braces are good, sign of quality craftsmanship. Still, that leaves the square protruding 'blocks' on either side that Linda zeroed in on.

I'm dyin' to know if there's somethin' in there! How cool would that be!?! ;D

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 8:18PM
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If the screws are blunt (not having points on the threaded end), they are handmade and before 1850. Take one out and look, if they all match, it's likely that the acanthus-carved brackets that are affixed by the screws are as original as the entire piece.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 9:53AM
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