When this secretaire arrived in the workshop it
appeared to be a typical walnut piece, that required some cleaning.
Closer inspection revealed that the colour was a superimposed
umber wash , designed to hide some previous misrepairs. This
colour was carefully removed exposing the golden honey colour
of the maple and the contrasting darkness of the rosewood. This
cleaning transformed the secretaire into a spectacular piece
of furniture. The wood is thick 3-4mm hand cut burrs of
field maple with roswood banding to the drawer fronts, cabinet
sides and half round mouldings to the cabinet bottom . Much
previous repair had been carried out in walnut and then crudely
coloured over. All the previous walnut was removed and the correct
woods used . Numerous missing sections were replaced and raised
and blistered sections relaid.
I was able to use steamed rosewood where necessary which matched
perfectly when treated with 75% nitric acid. Rosewood reapirs
can prevent difficulties for the restorer due to the difficulties
of lightening rosewood. It respopnds poorly to wood bleaches
and faded rosewood repairs are not easy to match. Steamed rosewood
, which are butts that have been prepared to be cut into veneers,
and are lighter in colour helps overcome this problem. New maple
was cut from burrs.
The three large top drawers were not original and it is probable
that there were no drawers where you now see the three top drawers
of the interior. These were reveneered in maple. The small bottom
right drawer was missing a new one made up in the correct
style. The interior brassware appeared original and the exterior
brass was replaced to match.
This secretaire functioned as a writing table but is also an
early form of safe. The hinged door in the interior is over
one inch thick and this compartment does not run all the way
to back of the cabinet. Therefore the contents of this
compartment are impregnible except from axe attack. There is
also a very clever secret comparement, the location of which
must remain a secret.