Saturday, March 3, 2012

A True Antique? Or Not?

Really fancy, schmancy antique dealers determine a piece to be antique if it’s 150 years old.  But some antique dealers use the 50 year mark to label antiques.  And I’ve also heard 100 years is the magic number.  Hmm, can’t we just get together and decide what it’s going to be, people?


I happened upon this dresser last week by mistake and I am giddy with excitement!  At first glance, it just looks like a plain, old dresser.  Nothing special.  I discovered it in someone’s barn in rural Morrow, OH.  A craigslist ad listed a dresser/chest of drawer/mirror that needed work for only $30, but a picture was not listed so I didn’t waste another second on the ad.  The next day, however, I decided to take another look at the ad because for some reason I had been thinking about it all night.  If I think about something all night, I think that means I'm supposed to buy it.  My husband disagrees with this theory.  To my surprise, pictures had been uploaded to the ad and the pieces looked like something I could maybe work with.  I was warned they needed quite a bit of work but decided to take a quick look since they were nearby.
The pieces DO need lots of work, for sure!!!  But while I was looking at the pieces, and hem-hawing around as to whether or not I wanted to take on the job of making them pretty again, the gentleman selling the pieces said he had another dresser that I could have too, if interested.  I did a quick inspection and here’s what I found.

IMG_3010First, I noticed the dove-tailed drawers.  These are hand-cut dovetailed joints.  You can tell this because they are not perfectly even, the sizes are different and they are not perfectly spaced.  Now, I’m not an expert, but I believe we started using machine cut dovetails around the 1880’s, so I’m just assuming this piece pre-dated that time.    But again, I’m certainly not an expert!

The next think I looked at was the wood. I’m terrible at determining wood type, so I have no idea about this wood. But what I did look at was the rough wood on the back. The cut lines in this rough wood are straight, not circular, which supposedly means it was cut before 1860. Circular saws weren’t used until then – which made round cut marks. I don’t know this for sure, but that’s what I heard.

The top board on the back was overlapping the bottom panel so, once I got it home, I gently removed the nails for a quick repair, repositioned the board, and re-nailed the top panel.

Repair complete!  It took about 2 minutes, tops!

So, this is the most exciting part of the whole dresser!  The square nails!!!!!!!!  I noticed them in when I was looking at the piece back at the barn, and when I removed that panel on the back to repair it, I got a closer inspection of the nails.  Now, supposedly, these nails were used until the late 1800’s / early 1900’s.  Here’s a pretty good picture of one.  Notice how the entire shaft is squared.  The head is also very thin along the edges.  I can’t tell if this is really a hand made nail or not but an expert certainly could.  And the entire dresser is put together with these nails.  Some of the wood filler covering the nails is gone, making the nails visible.   Now, just so nobody gets confused here, the old nail I’m talking about is that long metal thingy, not the dried up ugly looking one holding the long metal thingy.  Looks like somebody could use a manicure!  Badly!!!!

Lastly, I love how this dresser has rounded corners.  When I see this, it makes me think somebody took the extra time to do this.  It’s much easier to give it regular old squared off corners.  And the top is rounded to match.  AND the legs are cute too!

After researching this dresser a little, it may be that it should have just been cleaned up and left alone.  BUT, there are no knobs with it and I could see signs of green paint so I believe this dresser was refinished before.  Also, I have a great plan for it so I decided to sand it down and go for it.  I hope it wasn’t a mistake, but I think it will love it’s new makeover.

So, how much would you pay for this dresser?  I bought this dresser and the antique dresser/chest of drawers/mirror that I originally called about for only $25.  That's what I'm talking about!  Yeah, baby! (Those of you who know me know that I was just talking in my Austin Powers voice again.)  Pretty good deal, huh?

By the way, if you have any input about dating this dresser, type of wood, etc., I would love to hear about it!!!  Please leave me a comment.

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Tim Pearson said...

You're too cool for school! I sure am glad I picked such an amazing sister. You'll get multiple fun projects out of these several pieces you picked up for $25. I can't wait to see the results. HUGGS

HomeGirlDecor said...

I can't wait to see the results either! And I'm glad you picked me for a sister too!! I'm a lucky girl, for sure. :-)