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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Treasures: This lovely antique cabinet may need a little more TLC

  • I would like to have some information about this cabinet. One of the photographs I have included shows the sun streaming on the piece so you can see the colors in the design. What is the age and value?

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  • Dear Helaine and Joe:
    I would like to have some information about this cabinet. It stands 33 1/4 inches tall, and the top dimensions are 19 3/8 by 33 3/8 inches. It has one shelf inside. One of the photographs I have included shows the sun streaming on the piece so you can see the colors in the design. What is the age and value?
    Thank you,
    C.M., Syracuse, N.Y.
    Dear C.M.:
    This is a lovely early-20th-century piece that is decorated with elaborate marquetry depictions of flowers in a vase on the door, with parquetry chevrons running vertically on the door frame. The top also has a charming floral marquetry design accented with banding.
    The term "marquetry" refers to inlay that has a pictorial design. "Parquetry," on the other hand, is inlay with a geometric pattern.
    Before we really begin discussing this piece, we want to say that the sun is not the friend of most antiques. It can dramatically fade prints, fabrics, photographs, the spines of books and, yes, the wood in furniture.
    Sun fading can dramatically reduce an item's value, and great care should be taken that such items are kept out of direct sunlight. We believe we see some fading in the mahogany on the top of the cabinet in today's question, and the color in the marquetry is perhaps a bit more muted than it should be.
    C.M. needs to inspect her piece and see whether the sun has damaged it. If it has, the cabinet needs to be moved to a less sunny spot so that the value and the beauty of the wood and design can be preserved.
    And we noticed that this piece was placed in front of a heating-and-air-conditioning vent, and this, too, can do great damage. Central heating in particular can dry out wood, and due care needs to be taken to see that this does not happen. If you have furniture that comes in contact with the drying effect of central heating and air, a judicious application of a light furniture oil every six months or so is appropriate to prevent cracking and other problems. Apply a thin coat to the inside of the cabinet as well.
    The details of this piece are really very nice. It was probably used as a liquor cabinet/bar and held bottles and glasses. Notice how the top is "cantilevered" out over the base to serve as a surface where drinks could be prepared and served to guests.
    The piece has a stretcher base, vasiform turned legs and a wonderful neo-classically inspired ring pull, and above the marquetry panel in the door is a rectangular panel of rather elegant arches. This is an above-average liquor cabinet circa 1910.
    Page 2 of 2 - The photographs may be deceiving, and the surface of this piece may be exactly as it should be, but what we see looks dry, a tad faded and in need of some attention before the situation worsens. If the condition is as it should be, the insurance-replacement value is in the $800-$1,000 range.
    But if there are serious condition problems, that figure would drop by half or even more.
        
    Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of "Price It Yourself" (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, PO Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928. Email them at treasures@knology.net.
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