Author Archives: Belinda Chavasse

English Oak – Run of the Mill?

  English oak is a beautiful wood; it tends to have a fine and close grain, and hardens with age to an iron-like strength. England’s generally rich soil and its comparatively mild and moist climate have provided it with an abundance of trees ideal for use as timber. Medullary rays are a particularly characteristic feature …

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The Masters of Marquetry

One of the more unusual pieces that we have had in recently is this 19th century north Italian walnut occasional table. It has an oblong top, with canted corners, and decorative parquetry inlay, with a central marquetry motif depicting a classical chariot scene. Raised on a turned column, it has three hipped, scrolled legs. Marquetry …

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What is a Teapoy?

Before it became Britain’s number one drink, China tea was introduced in the coffeehouses of London shortly before the Stuart Restoration in 1660. Between 1720 and 1750 the imports of tea to Britain, through the British East India Company, more than quadrupled. Tea became a hugely popular drink in Britain, but, to the ordinary consumer, …

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What is Kingwood?

  This beautiful little ladies writing table is known as a ‘Bonheur du Jour’ meaning “daytime delight” in French! They were introduced in Paris in the 1760s, and swiftly became fashionable. The Bonheur du Jour is always very light and graceful; its special characteristic is a raised back, which may form a little cabinet or …

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What Counts is Underneath the Upholstery!

  When you look underneath the upholstery, antique sofas and chairs could not be more different from modern pieces. A new sofa, even from a high quality supplier, will be constructed of chipboard, stapled together and covered in foam. They are not built to last. A piece such as this beautiful French “fauteuil”, or arm …

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This is Patina

  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 …

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Fruitwood: Where was it used and why?

During the 18th and 19th centuries fruitwood was widely used for the construction of vernacular or “country” furniture in France and England. The most commonly used fruitwood was the timber from the native or wild cherry, Prunus avium, which produced a decent sized trunk and fine, wide planks. The wood is of a close, firm …

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What are ‘Oysters’?

  This technique is thought to have been developed by English cabinet-makers in the 1660s, immediately after the Restoration of the monarchy. Many of the finest pieces of furniture during this time were ornamented with roundels or ‘Oysters’ of walnut or laburnum. Oysters, so called because of their resemblance to an oyster shell, are produced …

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