New in this week is this magnificent George III bureau bookcase. Featuring a graceful open fret swan neck pediment above beautifully shaped doors with flame mahogany panels, this piece dates from the 1770s. Everything about it speaks quality, from the beautifully matched veneers on the drawer fronts to the bureau interior with its harewood and boxwood inlay, and its original swan neck brass handles.
Almost the finest feature of this piece is its ‘patina’. One of the most frequent questions we are asked is “What is patina?” It is one of the most difficult things to describe, and yet it is that extra ingredient which transforms the surface of a piece of furniture from the ordinary to the exceptional. Put simply, patina is the surface formed by a combination of the ageing processes caused by rubbing, dusting and waxing, coupled with oxidisation of the wood and the action of the sun’s rays, producing a bronze-like lustre, or “skin”.
Patina cannot be reproduced by the makers of fakes, and its qualities are an intrinsic part of the value of an antique. It takes two hundred or so years to form, but can be removed in an instant in the hands of an unskilled restorer.