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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-10-19 05:50
Subject: [help] Identifying a piece of furniture, part 2
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, family, help, photos
Thank you very much to everyone who made comments and suggestions on yesterday's post about the curio cabinet belonging to calendula_witch's family [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ].

As a followup, calendula_witch's mother has provided more detail and additional photos.
This cabinet has been in our family since at least 1940. It came with a 2nd husband (aged about 50 at that time)of my grandmother. He had inherited it from his wealthy New England family. They originally came to this country from Germany, and his father became a naturalized US citizen in 1885.

The decorations are painted, not inlay or decal. The design on the top includes a lyre on top of a scroll of sheet music. It seems mostly solid wood, except for the top surface, which is veneer. The gold accents are metal, tack-nailed on. There is no label or mark we can find. There are 2 metal keys. The shelves are thick glass, with a mirror on the back inside wall. There is no light in the cabinet.

The curved glass has no distortion. The solid pieces of wood are butted, and probably joined with dowels that can't be seen.

A while back I found something similar on eBay that was French from about 1850, so this may be the same or a later reproduction. It would be nice to know. It is about 4'8" tall. Also, there are some screws on the bottom, holding things together, but the curved wooden pieces are solid. My husband thinks the wood might be ash.

Also, it was mentioned elsewhere that the wiring visible in some of the photos is incidental to a lamp. The cabinet itself is not wired for electricity.

And the photos...










Photos © 2010 K. Salonen, reproduced with permission.
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2010-10-19 13:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There was, if memory serves, a strong cabinetry-making industry in New England/Philadelphia at the turn of the century. My gut says that this is an American piece, not French or German, made to that style. But that's only a gut feeling based on growing up around a lot of old furniture and doing some research on my own pieces.
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User: threeoutside
Date: 2010-10-19 13:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry I can't help ID it but DO DO DO be careful of those curved glass windows. I've got an oak curved-glass-front china closet (the window's like, 4' tall by maybe 2 1/2' or 3' wide) and when I had to move it in like, 1970, I called around to antiques dealers to find out how much I should insure the piece for, and at that time it would have cost over $700 to replace just the glass - and at that time, I would have had to order it from the only place in the world that made it - in Italy. I have no idea what it would cost these days. (The china closet made the trip just fine - in about 8 heavy blankets.)
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: threeoutside
Date: 2010-10-20 10:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, who knows, now? You'd have to consult an antiques specialist to be sure.
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Jim Hetley
User: jhetley
Date: 2010-10-19 13:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The decoration detail, painting and such, looks more European to me than American. Also, the painting looks as if it was a factory item rather than after-market, which reinforces that feeling.

I don't think it screams "reproduction" at me, from this distance. On the other hand, it doesn't look like it was high-end cabinet work when it was made.

When I said "Victorian era" yesterday, I wasn't meaning to imply British -- just, last quarter of the 1800s.

I am not "Antiques Roadshow", nor do I play such on TV.
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User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-10-19 14:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What a lovely little piece.

I'm guessing fruitwood, or possibly birch. If it's NE made, ash is not a NE tree. Again, I could be wrong. It is, based on the new info, most likely made in New England (MA, NH, or ME). I don't know which mill might turn out something like this.

Glass shelves and mirrored back speak to the 20th century, 1920s maybe earlier because of the hand painting. If the glass were original and it were that old, it would show "running" by now or other distortions. the fact that it's clear while the joins are showing shrinkage indicates either the pieces is early 20th century.

I'm still holding out for French, or French inspired. It's the legs. Possibly Regency with all those little folderols on it. A piece like this would be less likely to have shipped from Europe because of the risk of damage (that round glass!). So my vote is New England manufacture, likely early 20th century. I'd look for a mill in New Hampshire or Maine, most likely.
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User: adelheid_p
Date: 2010-10-19 14:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have no useful information to add other than it is a beautiful piece.
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User: muntahz
Date: 2010-10-19 16:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am going to say it is a reproduction piece.
Likely American due to the mix of French and Italian design details.
The Putti(Cherubs) tended to be more Italian.
The Lute is actually used more in Italian art and decorative arts as well. Though I really think the painted Lute, flowers, and bows may have been added later.
They don't seem to be yellowed, which is what the varnish would have done with age, and the reds are still really bright.
Unless they faded a lot or were a red-violet colour originally they are possibly too broght for 1800 anything. Purple and Red are fugitive colours and fade at a higher rate than other colours.
The frou-frou is very French!
It likely is a fruit wood with vener.
Maybe very Late American Victorian era with flowers added later?
The top painting looks interesting!
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User: quantuminsanity
Date: 2010-10-19 23:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That instrument is actually a Lute not a Lyre. A lyre is a sort of harp type thing.
I know that doesn't help, sorry.
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User: grumpymartian
Date: 2010-10-20 21:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What do you want to do with the information? If you're just curious, emailing or showing the pictures to an antique dealer or appraiser should be able to get you some more information. There are a few of these who do blog style like identifications from pictures if you google for it.

I'd probably print out these pictures and take them with you on your next antiques shopping trip. Antiques dealers are generally happy to chat and if they don't know they often have contacts who might.

If you need insurance information, you need an appraiser and they need to see it in person.
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