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Antique 5 Drawer Dresser with Dovetails

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Dressers176 of 779Mawmaws  dresser What style and age?
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    Posted 5 years ago

    (25 items)

    I purchased this dresser at an auction this weekend and would love some help identifying the age/style/type of wood.

    As per the agreement with my husband, I am only purchasing pieces that I want to keep for myself... and this dresser was begging to come live with me!

    I do not believe the drawer pulls are original as the hardware on the inside is fairly new. Each drawer graduates in size as it goes down beginning with 3" top drawers, then 6", then 7", and 8" bottom drawer. The backs of the drawers have less dovetails holding them together and the wood on the back is not sanded smooth. In fact they are quite rough.

    On the back of one drawer I found random stenciled patterns cut into the wood. I believe that piece of "scrap wood" was underneath when the maker was making a pattern for the bottom board. (per speculation)

    The only identifying marks are not really helpful. In faint pencil are the cursive initials M.S. - Nothing more to go on.

    The holes in the back tell me that there should be a mirror?

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    1. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      Nice small chest-- I'd think this was made about 1830s- 60s time period.

      It was refinished, which has taken the top layer of patina off in many areas. Best seen in the dark areas around the locks. I have a few guesses on the wood, but a close up photo that shows the grain will make the determination accurate.

      Hardware does look replaced-- probably had simple wood pulls at one point. From the back there is probably an extra hole in the center of the current pull attachment where the original wood pull was attached.

      This looks complete-- no mirror originally.

      These are not in vogue right now and bargains abound!

    2. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 5 years ago
      I will agree with scottvez and add that I can explain the three large and two small holes in the back. I am not sure if this is still done except on the west coast but it was a fad some time ago. Guys and women also would buy pieces like this and do a quick refinish job and patch them up as needed. Then they would drill the three holes exactly like yours shows. The holes were to run audio and video wires through where they were out of sight. The electronic equipment was in the drawers and the TV would sit on top. They were sold as TV cabinets, entertainment centers etc. The two smaller holes are where the wires were anchored on clips to keep them neat and out of sight. I have seen them done like this and really bad pieces were either stressed or painted and called shabby chick. Those folks did crappy work and people loved it and paid big dollars for them.
    3. OldeAsDirt OldeAsDirt, 5 years ago
      Thank you for all of your help. I have switched out 2 pictures so that I could give a better picture of the wood grain (top of dresser). If this is not a good indicator I can take a picture of the inside of the drawers. Without the sheen it might be easier to see the grain.

      The 2nd picture shows a close-up of the holes in the back. Upon closer examination, the larger holes were probably original (at least older). They are cut at an angle and do not fully penetrate the wood. This enables a screw to hold the top in place in the back. My guess is the screws became stripped out and the smaller holes were drilled for the same purpose. Only one of the larger holes still has a screw and although a slotted screw, it is not period
    4. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 5 years ago
      The holes not going through says it was part of a repair job. Normally that type repair isn't done from the outside. The close up of the top shows a very open grained wood. The more distant pictures look like maple or birch but this certainly isn't either. With that open grain I would speculate a nut wood like white oak, butternut and I think white oak can be ruled out. Years ago butternut was used as a primary finish wood when it grew bigger and provided wider material. Today it is seldom found except in the framework of couches and chairs. I have been known to spend half a day at the dump stripping an old couch just to take the butternut wood.
    5. OldeAsDirt OldeAsDirt, 5 years ago
      hmmm.... Butternut had never crossed my mind. Perhaps because I do not hear much talk of it being used. I do see similarities in grains from what I have googled.
    6. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 5 years ago
      oldeasdirt It isn't used much anymore but years ago it was quite popular with furniture makers of lower quality pieces. It is a solid hardwood but pretty open grained and not at all terribly easy to work. The stuff I salvaged out of old furniture worked good for glue up between other hardwoods for turning on the lathe.
    7. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      I'll defer to fhrjr2 on the wood. It doesn't appear to be one of the usual suspects (cherry, maple, pine...).

    8. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 5 years ago
      I am pretty sure this is butternut. I went out to the shop and looked some stuff up because memory isn't my best point anymore. A bit of trivia: Butternut was also called, "white walnut" when used in furniture and was quite popular because of it's resistance to decay. During the war years when the government had all the contracts on Oak, furniture makers turned to butternut and ash as a replacement.

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