Looking at Furniture

The decisions that I make when I buy an antique are quite simple. What makes them opaque, at least to the public at large, is the amount of experience that I can draw on when assessing something. You have to have seen a great deal before you can understand certain things. For example, I was in a sale room recently that had a nice three pedestal dining table up for auction. The table looked like your standard English table made in 1780 with a top that was three quarters of an inch thick with a moulded, reeded edge. The pedestals were almost brutishly large, but they were sturdy and quite good looking in a masculine way. However, when I walked across the room to look more closely at the table, the first thing I noticed was that the top of each pedestal was made from two boards of mahogany, what is known as a “two board” top. Most English tables from this time period would have a “one board” top, at least thirty six inches or wider. When I measured the tops of the two end pedestals, one was 44″ and the other was 44 1/4″. At that point, I knew not only where the table was made but just what had been done to it. Do you have any idea?

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