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What would you call this style furniture?

Posted by fori (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 10, 10 at 13:11

As long as we're talking about furniture, can anyone tell me what this style is? It's an armoire I picked up when I lived in a house with no closets. It is equipped with shelves (nicely finished and original) instead of hooks or bars for hanging. It's also full (because I still don't have enough closet space) so no pictures of the interior. My mother picked up a bed that is almost a match so I know it's not an unusual style. Like most old armoires, it comes apart.

The hardware seems original. (The knob isn't--it's just stuck in the keyhole because I use this thing and it's important to be able to open it. I don't have and have never looked for a key.)

Beveled edge mirrors that look pretty old--I'd guess they came with it.

After looking at these pictures I realize it's long past time to do some cleaning under and over and of this thing. Wow. It's filthy. You should see UNDER it. Ummm I thought I had thrown that away. Back legs are squarish. Front legs like so:

Anyway, how would you describe this? Style, age, wood? Thanks. I'm gonna go do some dusting....


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

1930s (the grooved, rounded corner moldings are extremely characteristic of that era) and a very pretty piece.

wood? ... maybe light walnut, pecan or something. It might also be ash or beech


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Thanks LG. For some reason I thought it was too tame for the 1930s. It sure holds a lot (and will never hold a television!).


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Edwardian English; mahogany.
Casey


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I would agree with Casey, although Edwardian paints a broad swath.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I think it looks like 1960 French provincial "fruitwood"finish.
Would like to see more...liek the back and a picture of the whole thing.
Looks like those keyholes don't actually go to "locks" but rather the decorative pieces are set over the wood....is that what I am seeing?
Linda C


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Hmmmmm.

Linda, the one keyhole is fake, but the other does go to a lock. I don't know if it works--the keyhole goes all the way through. I'll have to get more pictures, but for now I do have the other side of the keyhole. The shiny screw is the keyhole, holding on my cheap knob.

A picture of the back? Are you kidding me?? :) It is STUFFED! But I will see what I can do.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I have no idea - but it's an attractive piece.


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okiefurniture?

Alright. It's flat against the wall so no pictures of the back. The back is sort of crude and sides into the sides...it's all very clever and goes together much more neatly (and repeatedly) than Ikea flat packs.

It is held together with big screw things with round heads with holes and I'm sure there's a name for these pins. Here's one holding the top on, from the inside side of the thing:

There is a drawer at the base, inside the doors. Side view:

front view:

and hey! that key actually works in the drawer lock! I wonder if it works in the door...
Yes, I have too much junk.

Shelves are mounted thusly, and I only put shelf paper on because I couldn't get the OLD shelf paper off and it was gross...

I have some of that 60s fruitwood on some groovy chairs and it IS similar!


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Nope!!!! NOT 1960's fruit wood!!! LOL!
It's a fine antique piece, hand made dove tails...predated 1850.
It's what all that fruitwood stuff of 1960 was trying to copy!!


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Now I'm just confused :P

Not about my fruitwood chairs though--they are soooooo '60s! (And I know when they were bought.)


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

In this case, I think everyone is making a guess and they are all as good as mine, maybe better. But I retract my agreement with Casey. I, after seeing the inside, think it may be cherry, and made maybe in the 60's. I think Linda was right in the first place. The flecking on the inside and the grain and color, to me look like cherry. You also get that kind of fleck figure on sycamore and maple. Trying to guess via a photo puts one at a real disadvantage sometimes. In this case, I will go with the final consensus.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I know wood identification from afar is tricky and I appreciate all the suggestions. The super-flecky bit in the photo is a different wood from the rest of the thing--it's the backer for the mirror. Here's the one on the other side. A bit fewer flecks but much more context.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

The inside does not look old. Is the outside veneer?


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

It isn't veneer. The front, of course is mostly glass but the rest of it is solid wood. For example that dark streak int he photo above showing the shelf support looks like this on the exterior:


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Typical English wardrobe; the lining is a mix of "secondary" woods, beech, ash and oak are all visible on the interior/drawer boxes.
Casey


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Could the backing of the mirrors be newer than the rest of the piece? Large mirror held up by a small frame would be a potential weakness in the piece. I have a piece that is renaissance revival with a mirrored section and the frame on the mirror was definitely put back together and tightened up with a new backing.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

It could be newer, Palimpsest. It doesn't really look any fresher and it was certainly nicely done, but that doesn't mean it's not a replacement. Aside from the back and drawer, it's the only part that is very obviously a different wood. Without the flash it looks appropriately grubby but it is certainly a different species.

I do sort of covet the nicely appointed wardrobes with the linings and cubbies and things, but this one has a plain unfinished interior, except that the drawer and shelves are finished.

I've been googling about pointlessly and I just lack the vocabulary. The hinges (which are quite different from 1960s hinges) are interesting but I think they are normal for wardrobes that can be disassembled. But what are they called? They aren't hinges: they are pins on metal strips about 4" long. The pin goes into the box and the door slides onto the strip. I know that's a bad description.

If I remember correctly (it's been a few years since the last assembly), the top pins are attached to the doors and just go into holes in a metal plate. A picture, as best as I can manage, of the upper inside corner showing the door and a bit of the bolt thing on the front fascia (the part with the leaf carving, which is affixed to the top) connecting the top to the side.

That picture is really unhelpful. The door is on the lower right, open. The metal strip with 2 screws showing is the pivot point. Can someone tell me what that pivot hinge system is called? (Probably not, based on my description! But if you're into armoires maybe?)


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I can't tell which way the picture is skewed, but it looks like a knife hinge. Other than that, there are thousands of types of hinges. The side of the drawer and the flecked part look like beech and the lacy part looks like sycamore, whatever was available for secondary wood. (I'm getting old). I don't recognize any mahogany anywhere. The primary wood looks like fruit wood. I think lindac way right on with her first guess. I would also agree, made in England.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?again

It was difficult for me to tell what part of the armorie was what in the pictures.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Thanks S.O.'10.

Yeah I concede that that photo is sort of lacking context. :)

Here is a wider shot of the other side. It does look like a type knife hinge, although the only thing that holds the top and bottom parts of the hinges together is gravity. Insert peg A into slot B and hope whoever is holding the top doesn't smash your fingers while you're lining up the bottom.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Would you believe the male end is the pentle and the female end is the cup?


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

So this style hinge and dovetails are appropriate to the 1960s? Wait a second--were there even armoires in the 60s? I suppose there were, but I bet production dropped off quite a bit when people discovered the joys of closets (only to pick up again when people figured out they could stuff TVs in them).


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

So, can I call it low-end Edwardian then? The interior is really sparse compared to the nicer models. Unlined and unfinished (but sanded).

If anyone would like to venture another guess as to the wood, here it is finished as well as unfinished. Not sure that helps...

Inside:

Outside, same panel:

Thanks!


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

The wood looks very like maple to me.
Linda C


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

It's a beautiful piece!
Your shelves look unfinished, which is why I'm suggesting this. Just wanted to comment on the contact paper not coming off. I had something that had old contact paper that wasn't budging, and I remembered a body shop telling me to gently use a heat gun to take a dealer sticker off my car. (Do not use a heat gun lol!) Where I'm going with this is I remembered that trick & decided to try a hair dryer, very carefully, and it did remove the contact paper quite readily. You have to start at a corner to get it going, and once you get a piece of the contact paper loose, pull up a little & keep the hair dryer pointed at the underside of the paper. (It helps if you have one of those thin diffusers on the end of the dryer that concentrates air flow.) You don't want to point it right at the wood. As paper starts to pull away, just keep the hot air pointed more toward the paper that's lifting off, rather than pointed right at the wood. Don't hold the dryer on it for too long - if you hit a stubborn spot let it rest a minute and try again.

You'll probably need to do a light sanding afterward.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Thanks for the tip, Moonshadow (and thanks for putting that song in my head for the rest of the day). The fronts of the shelves are finished so it's possible the tops are as well, but I just don't know. The bottoms certainly aren't.

I find it sort of funny that the shelves have a nice little routed face while the rest of the interior is so basic. Someone must have had a fun new tool I think!


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Caseys answer is correct. It is neither pre 1850 nor 1960. The brasses are very typical of a turn of the centuryish piece as are the mixed woods (inferior woods inside with finer woods on the outside). The metal pieces are likely newer put on to replace a missing piece. You can never date by brasses alone.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Thanks for the input, I.C. Which metal pieces look newer? They all look sort of from the same batch to me (except of course for the knob which is circa 1990).

Except for the mirror backing material and drawer box, the wood on the inside is the same as the exterior. That's the mixed woods, right?


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I keep coming back to this....I see pictures of this piece in my head. LOL!
It's obviously hand made...now you can have handmade pieces in any era, but it's more found in pieces made before the middle of the 19th century...the industrial revolution.
The fact that the inside looks "new" means not much. In a well kept piece that has been in use for 150 years, the inside can look surprisingly "new"...where the light hasn't hit.
I have a chest made by my Great Great Grandfather. It went from my great grandmother's home to my grandmother's to my mother's to mine. The inside of the drawers looks very undarkened, unaged.
Are the screws hand made?
I agree with whoever suggested that the piece backing the mirror is not original to the piece...added as a reinforcement.
But I think it's earlier than Edwardian, closer to Federal.
Linda C


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

The use of secondary wood for furniture construction has been standard pratice for hundreds of years.
Fori says there is no veneer. If there were there would be a core wood, crossbanding, and face veneer on the front and the back.
The dovetails are European style.
The keyhole escutcheon and backplate look stamped; which they did three hundred years ago and still do now.
The manner in which the drawer bottom is attached to the sides could provide some information as could the original screws if one were removed. The screw head looks modern.
The wood inside looks like it has no patina at all.
If the armoir were old the patina on the bottom of the drawer and the sides would be different.
The carvings look machine made.
This is all I can and cannot discern from the pictures. Other than that, I guess it's anything you want it to be. It's still a nice piece of furniture.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Gee now I feel guilty, making y'all think about this with such bad photos. I'll be taking some stuff out of the wardrobe for the holidays and might be able to take better pictures. Because now you've got me more curious than when I started. Is there any part that I should photograph that could be helpful?


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

While you're at it. do some simple stuff like put a drop of alcohol and a drop of lacquer thinner on the finish to determine what the finish is. Look at the inside and outside bottom of the drawer. Is it plywood or solid wood? How is the drawer bottom attached? Remove the two screws and take out the lock and see if there is a name on it and how its is constructed. Look for tool marks and take a picture of them. Look for dark spots in the wood where the doors were open and shut from years of oils from skin that penetrated the the finish. Look in the same area for fingernail marks that chipped out the finish. Look for the saw marks to find out what kind of saw was used to cut the wood and see if there are marks where the wood was planed on a jointer or thickness planer.
Just playing along.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Thank you for humoring me. :) I really just want to know what to call it, but maybe it's just not that distinct a style. Anyway, I am learning things, even if they don't apply to this piece of furniture!

So. The bottom of the drawer is slid into a groove and doesn't look like plywood to me. This is the side/back of the drawer:

And the same joint from the back:

The drawer doesn't have slides; it just goes into a box that rests inside the armoire. There is some glue in the dovetailed joints, but that may be a repair.

I would probably not recognize tool marks and I'm not quite ready to take it apart or dissolve the finish. Most of the wear on it I did myself I have to admit. It doesn't seem to have been heavily used. The camera is doing weird things with the colors and adding dust that let's just say isn't actually there.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

The more pictures you show....the better it looks to me!!


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

The drawer bottom is solid wood with beveled sides that fit into a slot. A manner that was common before plywood came into general use. The dovetails are hand cut and are European style. The wood looks properly aged. I think Caseys statement that it is Edwardian is correct. The lock can easily be removed by taking out the two screws and turning to lock position, pull it straight up by the bolt. You can put a small drop of alcohol in an unobstrusive place and see if it melts the finish.
Anyway, a very nice armoire.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture? again

Just to keep things rolling, the back and sides of the drawer look like american chestnut. You can see what I mean if you will google hobbithouse, and then go there and click on the letter C, scroll down to chestnut and click on the small picture.
Chestnut is often confused with oak but does not have the medullary rays that quarter sawn oak displays. Take a look and see what you think. This would mean the armoire was made before the chestnut trees were destroyed by blight.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Interesting!

It really doesn't look oakey, but does resemble some of those chestnut samples. Would that suggest a North American origin rather than English? (Obviously pure speculation...)

I removed the drawer lock and it has no markings. The screws look pretty modern (although the lock looks pretty primitive, more of a latch that happens to be operated by a key than any attempt at security).

The latching mechanism on the door is marked "E.FOA" in an oval. It's sort of visible in one of the photos above, just north of the phillip's screw holding in my knob. I don't want to take THAT lock out--the assembly is taller than I am and it would be a bit awkward.


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I should quit.

I should quit looking at this thing. I just noticed it's not even symmetrical. I thought it was just fine for years and now this! It's a factory reject and I never even noticed!!! I suspect 15 years is too long to take it back.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I now recant my statement about machine carving. Asymmetry is a good indication that it was hand carved. Perfect symmetry means machine made. Also, the roughness around the leaves indicate hand work. The wood used for the front of the case may be different from the wood used on the side. Or not. A picture of the screw would be good to determine if the core or thread is tapered or the core is tapered and the thread is not. Are both screws an exact match? Is the screwdriver slot in the middle on each of the heads?
All these things would be readly apparent if one were to see the object in person, but are difficult to discern from parceled out photographs. So far, I believe Casey's appraisal is holding up. Still a very nice piece of furniture.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Well, I moved it, and took a picture or two of the back for Linda. :)

This is the cute little pin that attaches the back to one of the sides:

Back fits into a groove on the base:

The back before the uh back is installed:

The bottom:


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Every picture you post....it just keeps getting better and better!!
It's hand made....for sure. On the older parts I see no evidence of machine tools, no circular saw marks no router made dove tails.
If I had to guess, I would say European, could be Belgian, French, Dutch, English.....whatever. There are no defining characteristics that I recognize.
Granted it could be a very fine hand made piece from the era when cabinet makers used other than hand tools, but that's unlikely.
Sure it has had additions and corrections, b ut the bones of the piece are, great. It's a wonderful cabinet maker made piece....


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

So, older with updates throughout the years (including sticky shelf paper)?

I have got to get a picture of my mother's bed that I think matches. Or I should perhaps just get the bed...

I think when I bought it the seller said it was French. I don't know that she knew anything. It is back in service holding clothes and I love it--it doesn't smell. EVERYthing smells to me, but not this. That's important to me!


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

The back frame and panels looks like ash wood; I believe that would make it more continental, less British.
It was built with extremely great care, probably all by hand in a large shop where they had division of labor. Many smaller workshops used nothing but hand methods up til WWII. They were lucky if they had electricity for lights. If they were established enough they had machines for the very heavy initial rough steps, but their tradition and pride compelled them to remove all traces of the machine saw. They hand finished every surface because it was evidence of their mastery, and their comsumer base demanded such. Not like in the USA.
Casey


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Thanks y'all. So the style is...generic?

I'm learning things, even if I still don't know! I appreciate it.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I'd say it was possibly made in the 20's. The hardware matches my armoire's and I know that was made in the 20's. Of course leaf carving is done by hand. All the wood is solid. That style of carving can be found on some French pieces but other locations may have carved the same type of design. It comes apart so it can be carried upstairs to the bedrooms and reassembled.

It is a lovely piece.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

Refer to the photo showing two decroative carvings; One is on the left end of the furniturea and the other is at the right end.

I think these carvings are duplicates. The right side one is up-side-down of the the other one. I'd have to take a lot of time to examine in detail, but my first impression is the right side carving is almost a duplicae with small differences. If two carvings were made nearly the same and one placed on the left and the other on the right, the right one would be up-side-dowm compared to its twin.

Its not a reject. It is the result of using two carvings that were the same. In order to have symmetry, there would have to be a left and right hand version of the carvings.


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I'm sorry Jem, but I'm not sure I'm following you!

I do think the carvings are meant to be symmetrical and they mostly are. I'm sure they were sketched out with the same template or whatever woodworkers use. They just didn't come out exactly identical (or mirror imaged). The berries on the right side, for example, didn't quite make it but I'm sure having done such a nice job on the other half, the worker didn't want to toss the whole piece. :)


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RE: What would you call this style furniture?

I had to rush away, Now, I am back and took another look. You are right. The right carving is a mirror image of the left one with minor differences.


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