Need help identifying antique dining set
Note: I've posted about this furniture in so many emails and at so many other forums, I gave up recreating it, and just cut and paste now.
My husband and I stumbled onto a 'backroom' deal at a local furniture store two weekends ago. While looking at new, Chinese knock-off carved dining sets, my husband noted a dining set stuck in the back of the warehouse along with other various antiques that are there on consignment or are owned by the store owner and are for sale. This set included six cane-back chairs with heavily carved front legs, two Parsons style chairs with heavily carved legs (But not belonging to the set - the carvings are a different motif), a table with three leafs and heavily carved edge and legs, two sideboards, also heavily carved on the edges, legs, and the decorative back piece. It appears to be made of walnut.
I will upload pictures tonight, I exhausted my camera battery taking pictures of it yesterday!
These are the characteristics that made us buy the set:
The main sideboard is almost 7 feet long. It and its smaller mate have large, carved wood drawer pulls. These are ALMOST as big as a small doorknob. They have a rich, almost chocolaty walnut color. Each sideboard door has a functioning lock (four total) each lock is keyed different - there is not a master key. If you lose one key, you can't get into the door it goes to! The lock mechanism drives two bars/rods into the top and bottom, not a single tongue to the side, say like a standard door lock. Each side board has two drawers located in the center. Each drawer is dovetailed and they are tightly fitted. These are the drawers with the large, carved knobs. The larger sideboard has a section of four drawers behind a door - One drawer has lined compartments for silverware. Pulls appear to be brass and are a simple rectangle shape with a thin rectangle 'ring' that lays flush with the back of the pull. The top, front, and sides are of a heavily grained veneer that has a gold tone to it. The carvings are solid, probably walnut, and have a warm golden chocolate color. Anywhere the individual edges of the sheets of veneer meet, you see something of a gorgeous Worshack test effect. Two keys have been lost over time so we cannot get into the smaller sideboard. By pulling out the drawers, we believe the right side has simple storage areas, and the left side has another set of drawers like the larger piece. Feet are heavily carved.
The table, as I mentioned, has six cane back chairs. They are caned not only on the part of the back that one puts their own back against, but also on the backside with an approximate 1 inch gap between. A layer of dust sits almost a quarter of an inch thick between on the bottom part of the chair back! The front two legs are carved to echo the carving on the table and the feet of the sideboards. The top edge of the table and sideboards is heavily carved, as are the legs of the table, the runner piece that connects the legs. The legs have something that resembles a carved lotus type top (where the tabletop joins to the legs). I have noticed dowels used as pins underneath. There are no metal parts to the table with the exception of crude appearing screws - flathead pattern. The leafs to the table do not have a metal tab or dowel system for locking them together, but instead have wooden (oak?) tongues (about an inch and half wide, maybe a 1/4 inch thick) that fit into slots carved on the next leaf.
The two parsons chairs have legs that are a more red tone, (Remind me of mahogany) and have an upward facing pine cone rising out of a cluster of leaves type motif at the center of the piece that connects the front and back legs and the piece that then connects those two pieces with one another. Front legs terminate/sit on carved 'curls'. All pieces have been reupholstered at some point in the past, but have been done so by someone that knew what they were doing.
This set has a gorgeous patina, shows signs of wear and use, signs of being left in bright sun light (backs of three chairs, one side of the table top, some of the carving on decorative backer to the main sideboard) Some veneer is lifting, it is fairly thin. Wood underneath is solid - the table top is about an inch thick of solid wood beneath the veneer. Possibly oak. Table top has a small bell with a button in the middle attached to the skirt. It does not work.
All pieces are very, very heavy. All pieces are sturdy and will be used as intended, albeit for formal affairs like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.
I realize this is an exhaustive description, but we are intrigued by this piece. Its former owner sold it as being in his family for several generations, going so far as to claim it "came across with them from England" I have worked for various antique stores in the past, and antiques are a hobby of mine - this is NOTHING like anything I have ever seen, except when touring turn-of-the-century, historic homes, such as the Bishop's Palace or Ashton Villa in Galveston. I will post pictures tonight, if I can get my camera battery recharged quickly enough.
PS My husband and I have crawled all under and around this set and cannot find a makers mark. At least not an obvious one. I will double check tonight. Any hints on where to look would be appreciated. I know there are no identifying marks on or under the table at all, nor the chairs.
Additionally, since purchasing this set and my initial attempts at getting help from other forums, we've had two locksmiths attempt to pick the locks on the sideboards, to no avail. They claim they can't be picked! Also, a local appraiser believes the set may be turn of the century French made, then traveled to England, then eventually made the trip to America. I have a friend in Leicester England who is familiar with antiques and she and her mother have never seen 'anything quite like them'.
Pictures can be found here:
Here is a link that might be useful: Photos