This set is an outstanding example of the craftsmanship and artistic work in design, construction, carving, and finishing available at the turn of the 20th century. This 1904 complete set (#1237) was purchased from the floor of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 after winning a grand prize in its category by our client's grandfather. It remained in their family from that day.
This set was the "sample" or model set photographed by Nelson-Matter Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, MI for their 45th annual catalog published in 1905. our client's grandfather and passed down through the family. It is obvious that those who created this set did so with the intention using it to show off their skills and their product line.
This prized family heirloom consisting of a dresser, bureau, vanity, sleigh bed, standing mirror, and three mounted mirror frames was maintained in functional use until an unfortunate event brought vandalism to the family's home.
The set suffered the destruction of several drawers, several of the hand carved swans snapped, and multiple general blows. Given it was already over 100 years old, the line was crossed and a full restoration was in order.
The most significant damage the set suffered was the break shown above, almost centered on one of the main dresser drawers. Keeping in mind this entire set is matched flame mahogany veneer, replacing the drawer is impossible to achieve without a spotlight focused on a most obvious inappropriate part.
Restoration of this awkward shatter was a tedious affair, but in the end it was reduced to what could be a natural grain line in the wood. Those who know where it was, know it's a repair, those passing by without looking will never know it was broken.
Restoration had to include the reassembly of the drawer with a new case, but the original front.
Combined with the standard effects of time and use, the set had a few missing toes, all the drawer joints were loose, various sections of veneer were separating, an array of dings and dents from vacuums and other common mishaps.
The original finish was deteriorated due to inconsistent exposure to light, use, and environmental conditions. The decision was made to refinish the set, rebuilding a hand rubbed shellac as the original craftsmen did in 1904. As this set is collectable, not a true antique, refinishing is an appropriate restoration method. The result will be a consistent appearance, closer to its look and feel on the showroom floor.
Several toes were missing, and the layers of material separating at the glue joints. Replacing the toes and finishing the separations, then reattaching the appliques and detailed sections rehabilitated the hand carved ball-and-claw feet.
One of the vanity drawers suffered destruction in the vandal's attack. The result shattered both sides and the bottom; leaving the face and the back pieces intact. The drawer was rebuilt with new sides.
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