Thursday, December 23, 2010

Provincial Sheraton Tea Caddy c1800

Most items find there way to our workshop in this condition. A lot of the veneer is loose and some missing, there is no key and the polish has seen better days. The piece has faded due to excessive sunlight or perhaps because it has been left in a damp place for far too long.
The caddy is of probable provincial origin, mainly because of the veneers used to decorate the exterior. Instead of high quality Mahogany, Satinwood and Boxwood the maker has used timbers such as Birch and Fruit wood. These would have been much cheaper and more readily available at the time of construction.

The interior has suffered just as much as the outside of the piece as all the original lining has worn away and the caddy lids are no longer fit for purpose. These had to be replaced and the small knobs remade.

The first job is to reattach all of the loose areas and replace missing areas with suitably matched veneers. For the keyhole escutcheon we elected for a high quality piece of Boxwood, mainly for contrast and also for its stability and strength in an area that can easily be damaged.

The interior was then stripped of all remaining lining and old felt and replaced by a medium gauge pewter sheet and aged to suit. The caddy lids have now been replaced with some old mahogany which already has some age to it. The knobs have now been swapped for some more decorative Boxwood ones, these were turned in the workshop to a design in keeping with the period.

The outside of the caddy needed to be finished. As there was almost no polish on it, we had to start from scratch. After some light stain, the piece was oiled and then waxed to give it a mellow lustre. At the time the caddy was made, most furniture would have been finished in the same way. We chose a coloured beeswax to achieve the correct appearance.

After the polish was applied it was time for the finishing touches. The key was cut using an old blank, with just the smallest adjustments and the use of some oil for the lock mechanism.

After this, we added some baise to the underneath to stop the caddy scratching a delicate surface.
The bottom two photos show the finished product. Although the caddy now has a striking appearance, it still has a few blemishes. This gives it the appearance of a well looked after antique as it's important not to over restore a piece of this age.