Monday, August 24, 2015

19th Century Empire Dresser

Empire dresser, circa 1870s
When I found this gem for FREE, from a man who no longer had room for it, I knew I found a piece of history.  He was an older gentleman and said it had been his parents' dresser but didn't know the extended history.  After doing some research, and consulting on the piece, it was believed to have been from the 1870s.  Oh, how I love stumbling on a beauty!

Considering it's age, there really wasn't much to be fixed except two missing drawer knobs and a crack in the top that had already been stabilized.  Otherwise, it just needed a good oil rubdown and some touchups.

First, let me give you some reasons why it was worth saving.
1.  Gorgeous, handmade dovetail drawers!  These were done without a factory.  Makes me think of Pa Ingalls working away in his workshop for his Half-Pint Laura.  To think they held together all these years!

Hand-carved dovetail drawers

Each drawer was unique
2. Hand-planed wood too!  The inside of the dresser revealed hand-planed wood.  Again, serious Amerian craftsmanship.

With the drawers removed, you could see the raw hand-planed wood

Yes, the back piece had started slipping a little after 150 years of gravity!
3. Drawer knobs that were all one piece!  The knobs and their "screw" were all one piece of wood.  When I unscrewed the knobs, the threaded end was part of the knob.  Therefore, in order to fix the missing two knobs, I instead glued on two new knob "faces" to the existing remained of the broken knobs.  That way as much of the original knob was salvaged. 

Notice the two knobs on the left of the bottom two drawers were missing and then reconstructed.
4. The dresser had character in the form of a crack.  Some might see a crack as a flaw, but this crack showed it's almost 150 years of use.  It was a battle scar from the post-Civil War era to our modern day technology age.  It stood the test of time and took a crack along the way.  Prior to it coming to me, someone had carefully secured the inside to keep the crack from growing.  I added the glass to make sure it didn't bow over time or crack more. 

The top as it came to me

The "anchor" on two sides from the inside to hold the crack in place
The top after much cleaning and oil

The top with glass added.  It's ready for a new home!
Of course, I did a lot to bring the shine back and oiled up each drawer, inside and out with lemon oil.  The dresser was so dry.  It was ready for a new home.  The dresser sold and went to home that will treasure it for many more years to come.

Look at those gorgeous curves!

What a beauty!