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What is an Antique Coffer Chest?

Tuesday, 27th May 2014 No Comments »

Coffers are common examples of 17th Century furniture. They are large, rectangular structures with four walls and a liftable lid. Some have subdivided interiors while others have no divisions. Its early purpose was mainly for storage, but also doubled as a chair and a bed on some occasions.

Coffers stored valuable items such as food, household goods, weapons, fine cloth, and personal belongings. They generally had locks to ensure security, especially in the crowded households of the time. Some members of the house had coffers in their rooms to safeguard their personal things. They would even have their initials or names engraved for identification.

Antique European Carved Three Panel Coffer


Coffers can either be boarded or paneled. Boarded coffers were nailed and pegged and could be made by less skillful carpenters. Paneled coffers (or joined coffers), on the other hand, were set in frames and made by joiners.

Joinery was more expensive than carpentry. As a result, the most expensive coffers of the time were those wherein all sides of the lid were paneled.

Cassone vs. Chest vs. Coffer

A cassone is a painted chest used in the late Medieval times. It was used to carry the dowry goods during a marriage ceremony.

A chest is similar to a coffer in form, but had a different function. Coffers were used for storing valuables or traveling, while chests had a more generic storage function.

A hundred of years ago, chests stood in the public places of the house. They were high-status furniture at the time, as reflected by their high quality construction and decoration. In the 18th century, the status of chests declined. They were moved to more private parts of the house, and have become a means of storing everyday goods, along with cabinets and desks. Their once intricate designs also became simpler.

Coffers are 17th century chests or, simply, chests of importance.


Losing an inch or two in height would cause no concern. Lost locks, replaced hinges, minor repairs to the wood, and reinforcements under the lid are common faults that reduce a coffer’s value at a minimum. On the other hand, having a replaced lid, newer hinges, and major restoration to the wood can reduce its value significantly.

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How to Identify Antique Tapestries

Tuesday, 20th May 2014 No Comments »

Tapestries are decorative wall hangings originally used to keep the cold out of large homes or tell stories of royalty, battles, mythology, and everyday life. They dated as far back as Hellenic times and became popular during the 14th century in Europe, where majority of the population was illiterate.

Antique Hand Made Tapestry

In the past, tapestries demonstrated a family’s wealth and were seen in churches, castles, and manors. In today’s modern times, these decorative textiles can be found in homes and are used as decorative pieces.

But how can you tell is a tapestry is indeed antique? Here are a few clues to help you examine whether was truly crafted in ancient times, or rather it was machine-made just a few years ago.

Determine the Fabric Used

In the Middle Ages, tapestries were either made of wool, cotton, linen, silk, or a combination of these fabrics. If the tapestry has artificial fabrics such as polyester and nylon, then it’s definitely not an antique since these materials only became available around 70 years ago.

Look for a Manufacturer’s Tag

Old tapestries don’t have a manufacturer’s tag or an identification number. Authentic antique tapestries often have the initials or the full name of the weaver on the front—just like an artist’s signature. Some are written in dye while others are stitched into the fabric. Those with tags represent modern pieces.

Examine the Colors

In the past, weavers only had access to around 20 colors—made of insects and plant dyes. They would usually appear uneven or have faded colors, as the dyes were only extracted by hand. After the Industrial Revolution, new dying techniques were created. If all the colors on the tapestry look perfect, it’s possible that the tapestry is not antique.

Check for Irregularities

Using a magnifying glass, look at the stitches of the tapestry. Machine-made tapestries have even, uniform weaving patterns while traditional ones vary in size but are still closely woven together.

Consider the Design

The design of the tapestry usually portrayed an important event in history or mythology. Carefully examine the scene depicted on the tapestry to help you determine its age. If it shows a battle that happened in the 1400s, then it couldn’t be older than that year. Antique tapestries usually include a family’s coat of arms, hunting scenes, or Bible story illustrations. Also, if the design on the tapestry has depth and shadow, it is not likely an antique.

Have it Checked by Experts

If any doubt remains, consult a professional textile appraiser. An expert can test the fabric and verify when the tapestry was created, among other important details.

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How to Care for Antique Wood Furniture

Tuesday, 13th May 2014 No Comments »

Pair Petite Vintage Marble 3 Drawer Night Stands

Antique wood furniture is often one of the most valuable pieces within a home. To preserve its beauty and maintain its value, these precious pieces must be regularly cared for and attended to. Here are some simple ways to care for your antique wood furniture.


Any furniture expert or furniture blogger would agree that cleaning is always one of the most fundamental ways to take care of your antique wood furniture. Whether you store it for many months or use it regularly, dust and dirt will always find a way to accumulate and settle. This gives way for molds, discoloration, and other types of damage. Make sure that you stick to a consistent cleaning schedule to ensure that your antique wood furniture retains its beauty and durability. Use a small vacuum, a small paintbrush, or old cotton rags to wipe dirt away.

Avoiding Moisture

Moisture is an enemy of wood furniture. Moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria that causes mold or insect infestation. It affects its fibers, which can negatively affect the quality of the wood. Wood that has gone through prolonged exposure to moisture may cause discoloration, shrink, or warp. When using antique wooden furniture, make sure to keep liquids away to avoid any spills. When a spill does occur be sure to completely wipe the surface right away.

Routine Repairs

This is especially important for furniture that is frequently used. Early repairs can prevent further damage from occurring. Excessive wear can damage antique wood furniture, which is why it’s critical to inspect them from time to time and repair any damages. Always replace broken legs, knobs, or hinges right away. When in doubt, consult an expert for details on repairs or replacement parts.

Antique furniture is made with the goal to last for many years. This longevity can be hindered by several factors that you can easily avoid while you care for your most valuable pieces. Clean, inspect, and maintain. With this in mind and you are sure to enjoy your antique wood furniture for many years.

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How to Apply a Ceruse Finish

Tuesday, 6th May 2014 No Comments »

In the 16th Century, wooden beams and paneling were generally filled with ceruse (white lead) and wax to repel insect. The process resulted in a finish that highlighted the natural pattern of wood. After a while, the ceruse finish became a fashionable way to enhance the look of wood and has become a trend even up until today.

Antique French Louis Philippe Burled Walnut Commode

Getting a ceruse finish can be done professionally or at home. When taking on a project like cerusing, the processes and details are very important to achieve the desired effect.


As with any refinishing and restoration jobs, it is important to start the process by cleaning. This removes dirt and dust that may have settled with use or storage. It also ensures a better finish.

If you are not starting with raw wood, strip the varnish first with a varnish/paint remover and a brush. Once the varnish is removed, rinse the wood thoroughly with water. Once dry, raise the grain by using a good wire brush. Next, smoothen the surface by sanding. Most experts recommend fine grain sand paper for better results. Finally, remove sawdust and other debris with a tack cloth.


Fill the grain with the cerusing material of your choice. Make sure to apply the material correctly by carefully following product directions. Using a clean cloth or a brush and apply a liberal amount of your cerusing material. For better coverage, focus on one section at a time and make sure to follow the grain on every application. After the application, immediately wipe down the excess using a clean cloth. Be sure to let it dry thoroughly.


Protecting your furniture helps ensure that the stain will stand the test of time. It also helps avoid scratches that can give your antique furniture a worn out look. When the finish is completely dry, apply a protective coating such as varnish, shellac, or sealer. Make sure that the coating is completely dry before sanding it lightly.

A ceruse finish can give your furniture that elegant timeless look. Here at Antiques on Old Plank Road we have several wood furniture pieces that have the distinct look of a ceruse finish.

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What is Antique Putti?

Tuesday, 29th April 2014 No Comments »

Antique English Buffed Terracotta Garden Birdbath

We often come across antique putti here in the antique store. You have probably seen a couple of them, too—on buildings, outdoor fountains, or sometimes indoors as decorative figurines, or on television. Here are a few facts about them.

What are Putti?

The Italian word putto comes from the Latin word putus, which means “boy” or “child.”

A putto (singular form) is a decorative figure of an infant boy, often naked and sometimes winged. It is frequently seen in mythological paintings and sculptures especially during the Renaissance, Mannerist Baroque, and Rococo periods.

It has two popular forms in the 16th century Italian art: one standing with an animal or other object and one that is sleeping.

Putti Through the Years

In the 2nd century, putti were a classical motif found on child sarcophagi. They were usually depicted playing sports, fighting, or dancing. They disappeared during the Middle Ages and were restored by the sculptor Donatello during the Renaissance period.

Donatello and numerous other artists began infusing the form with Christian meaning and featuring it in works related to classical mythology. The painter Raphael, for instance, included two curious putti at the foot of his painting Sistine Madonna. In the late 15th century, putti were often associated with Cupid or any type of messenger spirit, being halfway between the realms of mortal and immortal.

Difference of Putti and Cherubs

Because of their similar appearance, people often confuse putti with cherubs. However, they are completely unrelated. Cherubs are biblical angels that appear in a religious context while putti are secular and are essentially decorative. Putti merely ornament a religious scene and do not take any part in the events depicted in the paintings. In both cases however, a putto’s presence symbolizes love.

Putti in Today’s Culture

Seen as purveyors of love, putti of today’s time are often seen on greeting cards or are used as wedding souvenirs. They are sometimes seen in movies or computer games as well.

Antique putti, on the other hand, are used as decorative figures in gardens, buildings, and other parts of the home. Some are sculpted from marble, terracotta, or wood, while others can be found on antique paintings.

Adding antique putti into your home design is a great idea if you are drawn towards Renaissance art, if you adore classical mythology, or if you simply want a vintage vibe to resonate through your aesthetic.

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