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Antique Armoire

Posted By: Dick Markel <themarkels1@sbcglobal.net> (adsl-70-240-97-236.dsl.hstntx.swbell.net)
Date: 8/27/5 11:01

My wife recently purchased an antique 5 piece armoire. The piece includes: 1. Middle base section 2. Right cabinet unit with door 3. Left cabinet unit with door (r and l cabinets attach to base with single bolt from underside) 4. Top (sits atop the right and left cabinets) 5. Front mirrored door (which covers up the middle section)

Fully assembled, thie piece is 87" tall x 70" wide.

This piece was described as French and turn of the century by the seller but he had no real other information. The locking hardware is definitely old and has the original key.

This piece is very confounding to me. The front and side panels are an exquisite burled (walnut I think) wood. It has very intricate wood inlay detailing that was obviously done by a highly skilled craftsman. The hardware is brass with a brass top crown accent. However, once you open the cabinet, the over-the-top craftsmanship disappears. The drawer sides and interior woods are roughly hewn and the joint detailing in drawers (for example) are large dovetails. The interior appears constructed with a great deal less craftsmanship than the exterior (like a different person built it). The interior back and sides are consructed of 1/8" plywood. It is original to the piece and is definitely very old. The shelves in right and left cabinets is 1/4" plywood and I believe is also original to the piece. (the plywood surfaces of drawers and back is nothing like what you see made today as it appears to have a hand made quality to it). The back is large and thin (1/8" thk) and slides into grooved slots on each side. So once assembled, the thickness of the back is concealed.

Now my questions 1. I have toyed witht the idea of permanently bolting sides to base, and screwing and gluing back top and sides for one monolithinc unit. I have also considered replacing the back with more of a "structural" piece. Would this be a mistake? 2. If I send pics of both exterior and interior detailing, could someone give me a more accurate assesment of what this is? 3. I always thought that plywood was a more "modern" invention (like from the 30's and 40's) but this piece definitely seems to blow that theory. 4. There is no makers mark. Not one that I can find. Is that typical? With the amazing craftsmanship of the burled wood front and inlays one would think that the manufacturer would definitely put a mark somewhere.

Any help that anyone could provide would be most appreciated. Thank you Dick Markel

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