Not quite antique but sentimental value (pic & question)

susanwritesDecember 9, 2010

Hi all,

I usually hang out over on the decorating board but as I'm putting the house back together after some renovations I'm trying to make best use of the pieces I have.

This gramophone box was in my grandmother's house all my life. All there is left is the box. Nothing fancy or expensive. I'm guessing it's about 60 or 70 years old.

So I know it's not worth much except in my heart but it is a nice size for storage. What I'm trying to figure out is if there is anything I can do (besides add a missing knob) to just clean it up? Since it's not a valuable piece I would guess refinishing it would be okay but I don't know what kind of wood it is to know it it's worth doing that.

The finish is odd to me. But maybe it is just years of gunk. Or maybe it is an old style of faux painting?

So I guess what I'm asking is if it rings any bells for the finish when you see it and if, knowing it's not a valuable piece, would you refinish it or just leave it as it is?

Thank you in advance.

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Looks like someone put a mahogany finish on white oak. Don't know if it's original but I think it would be ok to refinish. Looks like the finish that is on there is pretty thrashed.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 9:57PM
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Thanks, someone2010. Yes, it's pretty tired. A few generations of kids were rough on grandma's stuff.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 10:08PM
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I would bet money it's original finish.
Get some denatured alcohol and put a dab on a Q-tip and dab it in an out of the way spot on that piece.
I will bet it will dissolve the finish...because the finish is shellac.
Then you can pretty well wipe the finish smooth with the alcohol. You can float it on and it will soften all the bumps and crackles. You will need to deal with a flat surface, so turn it on it's back when you deal with the front part.
Are you sure it's not a sewing machine case??
Linda c

    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 12:14AM
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I wouldn't make too many changes to it because even though it is gutted it still has some value to many who restore the older units. They were hand made. As time goes on, they will surely become more scarce and more valuable. It's small enough to fit into most decor without being cumbersome or clunky.

I'll bet after you follow Linda's advice, the piece will look great. I also bet that Grandma will smile down on you if you use it to store photo's, store holiday decorations, plant stand, quilts, blankets, or something where you don't have to drill or make any changes. Maybe even have a speaker dropped into it to enhance your home theater or stereo system.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 11:38AM
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lindac - ah yes, I'm sure it's shellac. I will give the denatured alcohol a try. I would love to just clean it up a bit and then put it in my entry hall.

What I know of its history is what has been passed down. When you open the door, at the very top there is a carved out place where my mom said they kept the needles. She said the records went inside and the gramophone on top. It landed in the shed and my mom told me her brothers used to pee into the horn which of course ruined the actual gramophone.

windslam, I have just the place for it once I get it cleaned up!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 4:27PM
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Fori is not pleased

Ewwwwwww. I know the pee incident was a long time ago, but sometimes alcohol is exactly what you need for more reasons than one!

It's one of the nicer styles I've seen for a gramophone cabinet. I hope you share some photos once it's cleaned up.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 4:46PM
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fori - hahaha. Yes the pee incident would have been about 65+ years ago but yes.

I will share some photos after cleaning. Thanks so much. I've had this for over 30 years but never really started thinking about how to clean it up until now. I've carted it back and forth across the country with me because for some reason it just speaks to me.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 4:53PM
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