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Forum topic by designwizard posted 09-04-2019 12:35 PM 455 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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designwizard

7 posts in 86 days


09-04-2019 12:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mahogany furniture classic furniture restoring furniture dove tail brass drawer pulls restoration refinishing mahogany refurbishing

Last week, I bought an old piece of furniture. Seller claimed it was over 100 years old. Truth be told, I didn’t really care. It was solidly built, and in reasonably good shape. With a little TLC, I thought it could be quite nice.

This past weekend, I did some restoration. Frame is solid mahogany. I cleaned it up, did some work. I replaced the back, added a brace to the bottom, repaired the feet, filled in some cracks, did some refinishing. It’s looking good, IMHO.

This evening, I started working on the drawers. Of interest, I found some markings on the back of one drawer.

Apr 14, 1682

Eli. Hond

It’s a nice piece of furniture, but I have a hard time believing it is 300+ years old. Drawer joints are too good, and everything is just too perfect. Then again, maybe I am wrong?


21 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1458 posts in 3357 days


#1 posted 09-04-2019 02:21 PM

That looks pretty legit, I hope your refinishing was minimal, I’d seek an appraisal, depending if the maker is known, it could have ridiculous value, depending where you’re located and who the maker is/was located. Save everything you took off the piece just in case yo need to put it back on for the value.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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PPK

1526 posts in 1317 days


#2 posted 09-04-2019 02:32 PM

That’s a nice looking piece of furniture! I’d have to agree with you though, sure doesn’t look 300 years old. Perhaps that was a significant date of someone or other that owned that dresser? Who knows.

-- Pete

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Rich

4982 posts in 1097 days


#3 posted 09-04-2019 02:49 PM

I agree the overall piece doesn’t look that old, but that drawer back looks like it could be. Perhaps the builder re-used it from an antique as a sort of tribute. Just speculating.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

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jdh122

1097 posts in 3326 days


#4 posted 09-04-2019 02:57 PM

To me the style looks wrong for something from the seventeenth century. I’d expect it to be more massive and elaborate (and probably made from oak). Late nineteenth would be my guess. But I’m no expert.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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ibewjon

991 posts in 3301 days


#5 posted 09-04-2019 03:13 PM

If it was valuable, just changing the back may have ruined it. Hope you saved the original back.

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Mario

186 posts in 3904 days


#6 posted 09-04-2019 03:26 PM

Looks like you have the remains of a very old drawer chest as the marked drawer looks very much that old, but maybe the case was rebuilt at some point, you need to find tool marks and determine type of wood, case construction, and so on, the case looks quite young and the mahogany faced drawers don´t seem to fit the rest of the case. IMHO

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Andre

2792 posts in 2314 days


#7 posted 09-04-2019 03:47 PM

I do believe that you may not be the first to have worked on this piece.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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designwizard

7 posts in 86 days


#8 posted 09-04-2019 05:24 PM

This piece has had lots of repairs over the years. I am intrigued by the comment that the chest may be newer than the drawers. The drawers fronts are mahogany, but it is a different type than the chest. The drawer sides and bottoms could be hand made, and the wood is very soft and light. I don’t recognize it. There are no nails in the drawers, except where some repairs were made.

The chest is made of mahogany, with pine cross pieces (or maybe fir), mahogany trim, and oak drawer rails. Lots of nails, a few rectangular, but the back was installed with round nails with thin flat heads. Very modern. Drawer rails with standard finishing nails. The style is perfectly generic, and all the components (the trim, and especially the feet) match. They have to be machine made. So, my conclusion is that this chest was carefully fabricated to look old.

I am going to have some of the drawers checked out for authenticity.

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WoodenDreams

742 posts in 419 days


#9 posted 09-04-2019 05:43 PM

Sellers of antique furniture can do several modifications (tricks of the trade) to get a old peice of furniture to look like a older antique piece. I now of a place in Montana that makes furniture with oak. They build them to look like antique furniture (with nicks, scratches, hammer & chain marks weathered look, ink blotches, over lapping stains and finishes to make them look like someone had refinished or restored them, etc.). They have a antique store in front half of the building, and the back half is all the oak furniture, the very back is a separate woodworking shop. They don’t sell the furniture as antiques, but as older furniture (he doesn’t mention to customers if it was made six months ago or 100 years ago. People think they are all antiques because the front half of the store is a antique store, and naturally thinks all the furniture are antiques and also because of his asking prices of the furniture. Prices start a $1500 and go up to $8000. After chatting and visiting with the owner in his shop, I’m very leery of any antique furniture. But I’ll buy the piece if I like the appearance on look, not because it’s antique.

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

4982 posts in 1097 days


#10 posted 09-04-2019 05:56 PM


This piece has had lots of repairs over the years. I am intrigued by the comment that the chest may be newer than the drawers.

- designwizard

Without seeing them it’s impossible to comment on the drawers overall. What I was suggesting, and it’s pure speculation, is that that drawer back and other parts of the drawer were pulled from the builder’s breaker store. Whether it was out of convenience, or as a way to leave it for posterity, we’ll never know.

That drawer bottom has all of the features of the way they were done long ago with the tapered edges. I’ve seen others like it.

Fascinating stuff though. You’re fortunate to have the opportunity to work on it.

-- There are 10 types of people—those who understand binary, and those who don’t

View houblon's profile

houblon

46 posts in 2161 days


#11 posted 09-04-2019 06:08 PM

It looks like the drawer bottom grain runs front to back which would agree with the date.
Are all the drawers like that?

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designwizard

7 posts in 86 days


#12 posted 09-04-2019 07:12 PM



It looks like the drawer bottom grain runs front to back which would agree with the date.
Are all the drawers like that?

- houblon


There are 4 large drawers (full width), and two half width. The drawer bottom grain runs side to side on these. On the three small drawers the grain runs front to back.

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OleGrump

497 posts in 853 days


#13 posted 09-04-2019 07:37 PM

Very interesting piece to be sure. I am in the camp which says the drawers, and possibly part of the main carcass look to be much older than the present outer carcass and drawer fronts. For the sake of discussion, let’s say that this is the situation. Then, in the early 1800s, someone decided to “update” it to a more “modern” design, which was in vogue at that time. This is one possibility.
The last name “Hond” doesn’t sound very Anglo-American, as one would expect to be the maker of such a piece. The use of mahogany that early? Hmmmmm….. One begins to suspect one of those British Tropical Colony pieces, made for the British occupants. Watching The Antiques Roadshow, sure seems like a LOT of these pieces made it to North America. I hope you’ll keep us updated on your findings with this piece.

-- OleGrump

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wildwoodbybrianjohns

300 posts in 55 days


#14 posted 09-04-2019 07:48 PM

Out of curiousity I did some investigating.

Eli Hond is most likely a dutch name, and there were many dutch on the east coast at that time.

Also, April is the same in english and dutch.

I would say that the name and date are authentic.

As for the rest, Im not an expert, the more “stressed” the dovetails on the drawers appear, the farther back you can go.

I wouldnt expect massive, or ornate, I would expect simple design, think shaker, with an interesting detail or two, like the feet.

One thing I think is particularly interesting is the how the numbers of the date are cut, the 2 and the 4. Observe how they are printed here, as opposed to there.

OleGrump makes a good point about sourcing mahogany, but lets remember that the dutch were in africa well before the english, in the indian ocean well before the english, in indonesia well before the english, and would have learned of mohagany in any of these areas.

And for a little more history, if ya all dont mind, it was the jews who were thrown out of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella and went to Amsterdam and Ghent, who financed that Dutch naval expansionism across the globe.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

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designwizard

7 posts in 86 days


#15 posted 09-04-2019 09:48 PM

I did some checking as well. Hond is a dutch name, and Eli. could be an abbreviation for Elijah, Elias, or Elizabeth. I am starting to think the drawers were hand made. The dovetails are good, but on the inside of the fronts are lines on each side. At first I thought they were cracks, but now I think they are saw lines for the dovetails. And there are gouges for the drawer pulls. (and a second set of holes that have been filled in). Hardware was probably replaced, otherwise the finish on the front would be more faded.

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