Maître Ébéniste ~ Master Cabinetmaker
|London Joiners Ltd. conserve or restore antique furniture and objects of art,
carvings, veneer, bone and pearl inlays, gold leaf frames, musical instruments,
paintings, and traditional and oriental finishes.
There is a distinction between the techniques of conservation and restoration, often a very important judgment call when assessing damages. The word and techniques of "restoration" may apply if, in the case of a tarsia incastro inlayed desk, new "old" wood is used to replace that which is missing. On the other hand, "conservation" may be best understood in the following two examples: If the original finish on an antique of virtue responds to careful cleaning and a building of worn areas using the same finish, then it is conserved, that is, saved. Only in cases where enormous damage to the finish is irreversible, is the option to "restore" decided on. Another example of "conservation" is in the approach to a missing element in, for example, a 14th century Italian carved and painted wooden statue of the Virgin. If a missing section of a crown on such were of concern to a museum or private collector, London Joiners Ltd. would suggest that a replacement for the missing piece be made from clear acrylic, a representative solution, rather than an irreversible intrusion on the original work.
There are however many instances in which restoration and/or the making of missing pieces is justified. There are countless instances of thieves taking the silver, drawers and all, from dining room sideboards and commodes. London Joiners Ltd. has made several such drawers, of old wood in period techniques, to replace that which was missing. Regarding table surfaces, it is not uncommon for dining tables or other similar surfaces to be French Polished every other generation, due to candle or heat related damage from soup tureens or other objects. The important consideration is to restore and/or re-polish in such a manner as to keep the original patina. Other considerations are discussed in the various sections of the main page, which has clickable icons to areas of interest.
A French Scrimshaw Ivory and Ebony Desk, dated Paris 1882, and sold by Meubles Hertenstein, 10 Rue de Charonne. The piece is signed "garne le 12 juin 1882, A. M." Conserved, with select restoration of damaged plates, and a newly etched replacement for a missing plate (see Fig.2). This piece, a disaster when it was taken in (see Fig.3), was the property of Countess Sylvia Szapary of the Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island. Photo by Stuart Simons.
A 17th Century Italian (possibly Hungarian) Nobleman's Desk in Tarsia Incastro, with the top pattern in point de Hongrie, surrounding a heraldic shield motif. The Vanderbilt's acquired this piece in 1907 at the legendary Donatello Palace sale of Medici works of art. When it reached the London Joiners Ltd. studio there were many missing tiles of wood, especially on the desk surface. Also missing were the ebony drawer escutcheons and dozens of pieces on the legs. Old wood was used to replace that which was missing, and a perfect match of patina was achieved. Photo by Don Dempsey.
A detail of the top, showing the initials R C surrounded by a field of ermine tassels, over which is a royal crown. The significance of tassels was a mystery to Godziemba-Maliszewski until, by chance, such was explained in a book by George Steiner (Errata: An Examined Life, Yale Univ. Press 1998). When a nobleman joined the Church he gave up his personal coat of arms and a field of ermine tassels, the number of which signified rank, replaced the family armorial. The initials remained, and the crown which signified royal birth. The initials, RC, remain unexplained. Photo by Don Dempsey.
|Fig. 6 - 7|
A New York Late Federal Drop Leaf Table, circa 1820-30, with turned column, paw feet & acanthus scrolls, in the style of Honore Lannuier, signed "S.W.". The center of the table suffered a severe and irreversible burn and had to be replaced. Note in figure 6 the near-perfect match of the new ribbon mahogany of the center board compared to the original leafs. Figure 7 shows the extent of the damage. "S.W." may have been apprenticed to Lannuier. However as Lannuier was contemporary to Duncan Phyfe, "S.W." may have worked for Phyfe. London Joiners Ltd. welcomes information on the initials from a reader who may have an expert opinion.
|Contact London Joiners:|
|23 Westchester Avenue|
Pound Ridge NY 10576
914 764 4216
|94 Dodgingtown Road|
Bethel CT 06801
203 798 2534