A Day at Winterthur: Part 2

OK, I know I wrote that I would tell more about the Darlington chest (June 2013 cover project) next week. But I have three big reveals, so I had to share another bit yet this week. And this post should give you a little insight into the world of museums and high-priced antiques. Here goes.

Snipe HingesIn front of the chest set in one of the 170 something rooms at Wintherthur, we were told that the original chest has had some work done to it. Some work? Wow. The top of the chest was cut down from front to back and a piece was then added back. Why? Because of the hinges. Originally, this chest had snipe hinges; one cotter-pin-like piece driven through the top with a second driven through the chest back while the openings of the two pins hook together to form a hinge. Snipe hinges, because of how they’re installed, are notorious for damaging surrounding wood. To fix the problem, the top was adjusted and butt hinges were installed.

To fix the lid is not unheard of, but hold onto your seat because another bomb is about to explode. As the lid is lifted, we see a fourth drawer. What? That’s right, another complete drawer. Boom!

Drawer DetailsSometime during its life, Hannah Darlington’s chest had, due to damage I suspect, a new drawer front added. To beat all, the replacement front did not have any inlay. No inlay at all. The conservators at the museum thought it best to replace the repaired drawer front with an entire new drawer, and their added drawer included a front with matching inlay. Winterthur keeps the extra drawer inside the box. (That makes you want to look inside all the furniture to see what else is there.)

OK, for this you cannot fault the museum. The chest, when originally built, would have had inlay on all three drawers, not just two. The conservators have put this piece back to how is was originally built. That’s a good thing. And if you look at the chest, I’ll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that you could not tell which drawer was the replacement.

Next time I’ll let you know which drawer is the replacement, and I’ll share another detail found inside the Darlington chest. I am a furniture geek, huh?

– Glen D. Huey

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Editors' Blog, Woodworking Blogs

About Glen D. Huey

Glen Huey is editor of American Woodworker Magazine, and former managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. He's an accomplished period furniture maker and author of numerous woodworking books and videos (as well as magazine articles).

2 thoughts on “A Day at Winterthur: Part 2

  1. Steve-o

    Being intrigued by the details of a craftsman’s work doesn’t make you a furniture geek… Does it? Ah carp!! (My kids won’t let me say crap.) No wonder my wife and kids keep walking whenever they hear “I want to stop to look at this for a minute.”
    Oh well! Keep up the great work!
    Thanks for sharing so much of how you do what do. Taking the mystery out of how your work is done does not ruin the prestige of your work a bit!

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