Featured Old (18th century?) mahogany bureau restoration project help

Discussion in 'Furniture' started by Woodaholic, Feb 19, 2019.

  1. Woodaholic

    Woodaholic New Member


    New member here!

    I recently purchased this old bureau and cabinet from a local farmer here in France. I have the item's backstory, at least over the past decade. It belonged to a British expat who had moved out to France some time ago. He had quite a lot of nice, older furniture and was apparently very knowledgeable (I didn't know the fellow so this is simply what the farmer told me). Sadly, he passed away a few years back. His furniture hung around inside until his neighbors, aforementioned farmers, bought the property. They then moved all of his old furniture and books into a barn where they stayed for another few years until I bought it.

    Amazingly, despite being in a barn it's still in okay condition. Somehow, there's no woodworm although I treated the base and feet just in case. There is however some discoloration which is from a mixture of exposure to the sun and by the looks of things some sort of spillage, probably chemical judging by how it has removed the finish.

    My father knows a bit about antiques and did some research. He seems to think that this piece dates back to about 1750-1770, so around George the IInd or George the IIIrd. Would he be correct?

    I can say that it's definitely not modern given the old nails and the handcut screws. The handles are all made out of bronze (one's shinier because I polished it).

    I'm planning on restoring it sympathetically. Not too sure if I should try and peel everything back and then refinish it or simply deal with the worst affected areas like the top drawer?

    Any help/advice would be most welcome.



  2. Fid

    Fid Well-Known Member

    not French. English 1920s/1930s tallball secretary.
    Ghopper1924 likes this.
  3. KikoBlueEyes

    KikoBlueEyes Well-Known Member

    Welcome Woodaholic. I love old wood things like this. My mother used to sit and do her letters at one similar to this. I think it would be helpful to the furniture people if you showed some pictures of the details you think are determinate of age. Kiko
  4. verybrad

    verybrad Well-Known Member

    Looks like someone stripped the drop-front and the stripper dripped on to the drawer front. Since the drop-front has been stripped, might as well refinish the rest.
  5. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    I agree, English, as you already suggested, woodaholic.
    Ghopper1924 likes this.
  6. clutteredcloset49

    clutteredcloset49 Well-Known Member

    Not 18th century - that would be the 1700s.
    I agree with Fid 1920s-30s or even later.
    Bakersgma likes this.
  7. Woodaholic

    Woodaholic New Member

    Thanks for all the replies.

    As a Frenchman, I can confirm that this isn't French. It's not a style they had a lot and they're specifically known as "Secrétaire Anglaise".

    I was a bit surprised about the date. What leads you to believe it was so recent?

    The things which lead my father to believe this were the screws which have been hand carved as each is different, they also lack sharp tips. All of the drawers and handles are slightly different and only go in a certain order. The glass of the vitrine is all handblown, distorted and presents faults such as bubbles. The wood is also old. It's dark here but I can take some decent photos tomorrow for those interested.
  8. Hollyblue

    Hollyblue Well-Known Member

    My house was built in 1911 and has several window panes with waves and bubbles,it's not easy to date glass.
    KikoBlueEyes, Ghopper1924 and Fid like this.
  9. Fid

    Fid Well-Known Member

  10. daveydempsey

    daveydempsey Moderator Moderator

  11. Jeff Drum

    Jeff Drum Well-Known Member

    In the US a desk with bookcase on top is called a Secretary desk. Style is correct for England. It is possible your dad is right and it is 19th century, but you need pics of unfinished surfaces to know. Pull out a drawer and show us the dovetails. Also the sides and underneath of drawer. And pull it away from the wall and show us the back. And take better in focus pictures - hard to tell what we’re seeing. Also show us the inside where the drawer pulls are attached so we can see whether brasses are replaced.
    verybrad likes this.
  12. Fid

    Fid Well-Known Member

    Ghopper1924 likes this.
  13. KikoBlueEyes

    KikoBlueEyes Well-Known Member

    Hollyblue. I knew we had more in common than a love of rocks. My house too was built in 1911. I hate when I lose a piece of that lovely old window glass. Kiko
    Ghopper1924 likes this.
  14. verybrad

    verybrad Well-Known Member

    Simply not enough to go on to date this. We really need a comprehensive set of photos as outlined in Jeff's post above.
    Ghopper1924 and KikoBlueEyes like this.
  15. gregsglass

    gregsglass Well-Known Member

    My old farm house was built in 1905. It had 95% of it's original wavey bubbled glass. I found some one the next block over who had all of their windows replaced with brand new vinyl:eek::eek::eek: I collected several of their discarded windows and had my newer ones cut out and cut old replacements from the discarded windows. I kept as much glass as I could. I left the old glass in the basement in case the new owners had a problem. Two years later I was going past the house and noticed that one bedroom window had been replaced! I sighed and thought all my hard work was going to be undone.
  16. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

    English and in my opinion 1790-1810 the handles aren't the originals, I have a bureau bookcase just like it. It's a pity the lock is missing but the original handles are easy to find, as to the refinishing, I would find the right stain and just stain the bleached drips then give the bureau bookcase many coats of wax. BTW look for secret drawers, when I bought mine I found a secret drawer with a very fine fountain pen in it, often they are hidden behind the moulded/shaped pigeon holes in the bureau
    Any Jewelry likes this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page