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Archive for the ‘Catching Fakes, Frauds and Alterations’ Category

Kakiemon by Chantilly by Samson!!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

On our recent trip to France buying for the shop I could not resist documenting this perfect example of the great faker Edme Samson’s work.  Kakiemon is a mid-17th-18th century Japanese porcelain of great decorative restraint on a white ground. While popular forever from the great kilns of Arita, Kakiemon was surpassed in popularity by Imari, Kutani and other more gaudy colors in the 15th and 19th centuries.

Kakiemon was one of the most popular porcelains brought to Europe and as the burgeoning factories producing first soft paste and then hard paste porcelain, Kakiemon was copied throughout Europe.  Meissen and the other princely factories of Germany and Chantilly and several other royal French factories produced great imitations.  This was the period of approximately 1730-50.


Beginning in the 1840′s the Chantilly factory produced elegant Kakiemon in a soft paste milky color but hard paste tocopy the Chantilly!  This example similar to period pieces of the Regence and Louis XV reigns has bronze dore mounts but when further investigated we find the marks of the Samson factory.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


The mark of interest is a pair of entwined s’s for the Samson factory.  Sadly the making of a lamp sometime in the 20th century destroyed another mark.

While we know that the vast majority of Samson production was misrepresented by unscrupulous 19th and early 20th century antiques dealers and auction houses throughout Europe and America, this mark is an honest one and clearly used by Samson to proclaim their work.  A fascinating article in 1892 by the famous author/antiques student Sarah Cooler Hewitt documents in gory details for page after page the shenanigans of the House of Samson.  The basement had storage bins with orders for antiques from all of the most prominent antiques shops and auction houses in the world–just waiting for them all to be made and shipped!  Four floors covering a city block had hundreds of craftsmen working creating every conceivable type of porcelain, bronze, lacquer, enamel, etc. that one could imagine.  And she described how aging was accomplished by rubbing, chipping, acid treatments, and other chicanery.












Antique and Vintage Overwhelm the New

Monday, November 4th, 2013

From design to quality of craftsmanship to price, almost all new items come up so very short!

During the Antique and Design Market Seminars I was speaking to the issue of why designers should steep themselves and their clients in the pleasures of antique and vintage furniture and decorative accessories.  Much of my talk was inspired by a perusal of several major shelter magazines the week before at the Birmingham Antiques and Design Show.  I was simply floored by the pricing displayed in promoting various new items.  Here are a few of the comparisons I found!

A page in Veranda, a gorgeous shelter magazine

In Veranda there was a section on the latest in design from France–fully sourced and priced for most items.  Let’s start in the lower right corner with the reproduction bonnetiere called a painted cabinet for $6,895.  How it is made is not totally clear, but I did scan their website and let’s just say not impressive.  Compare this to two larger painted examples I found on the show floor–a Swedish example for under 5,000 and a piece from Normandy for 1,800, both in painted surfaces on pine.

Swedish neo-classical armoire

The paint is certainly restored on this handsome piece but is architectural and simply dynamite design.  It is early 19th century and useful for myriad purposes from storage to clothes to sound systems.

Buffet a deux corps from Normandy (Caux region)

This charming cauchois painted pine piece dates to about 1830.  The dealer had offered it for 2,400 for several markets with no action so he chalk painted it for this show and repriced at 1,800–sold on day one!  The reason it had not sold were the missing pieces–still missing if you look carefully–which stood out like sore thumbs in natural pine (it had been stripped many years ago).  Also the color was not good.  Now it has sold for less than a third of the reproduction!

Homme debout

In our own shop is this splendid piece the same size as the reproduction from France yet read this description!

A country French homme debout of burl ash, ash & cherry wood. Early 19th century. A rare form. The upper & lower doors well carved with fabulous burl wood panels, centered by 2 drawers with burl insets, and with line inlaid diamond shaped panels of burl at the top and on the shaped apron. Original steel hinges, escutcheons & handles. Well developed escargot feet. Molded crown. 80 7/8″ h., 38″-43″ w., 22 1/2″-25 1/4″ d. $4,800



Authenticating English and Continental Furniture Seminar

Monday, July 29th, 2013

After the wonderful two days of learning about American glass, glass making and the history of glass development, it was time for Elizabeth and me to teach.  The first course, Authenticating English and Continental Furniture from 1700 to 1840, was two days of class and hands on small group work.  Then I taught a course for one day on the 19th century with the impact of all of the modern mechanical developments on both the “new” and revival styles.  Finally Elizabeth and I taught a one day course as an intensive seminar studying 30 pieces as viewed through our eyes–why we view it as meritorious from style through construction to authentication–particularly fun as we again divided the group, this time in two parts, so that each group heard about all 30 pieces from each of us.

One of the important characteristics of 18th century French furniture is the quality of the gilt bronze mounts.  Here Elizabeth is pointing out the superb mounts on a Louis XVI commode and noting how the parquetry (geometric inlays) relate to the bronze mounts and also noting the fine, thick marble typical of the original marble tops of the 18th and early 19th centuries.  While copies of quality may indeed have fine marble, a thin piece is a dead give-away to replacement or a revival piece.

Elizabeth prepared a set of terrific hand-outs that everyone loved–”cheat sheets” for everything from dating to authenticating clues, including the all important reminders of authenticity.  Great reminders whether shopping for the collectors, buying for the dealers or appraising for the appraisers in the classes.

Here I am discussing a piece made in London of a time almost identical to the French commode Elizabeth was discussing.  The form is more chaste but the veneering brilliant and flamboyant employing satinwood, satin birch, harewood (dyed sycamore). touches of rosewood, etc.  I am also pointing out the fact that every piece of veneer and inlay is shrinking over time, as the woods beneath the veneers have also shrunk.  This leads to everything from substantial cracks to minute cracks as well as gaps between every single piece of the veneers and inlays.  ALL wood shrinks over time, even the tiniest pieces of inlay, so always look for tiny gaps now filled with wax and grunge!

We had a wonderful array of pieces of wood, hardware, and construction examples to share on this first day of lectures–hands-on always are a real help both to understand each point and to not simply lecture with power point photos–a much livelier day!

With these samples we could easily examine one of the two principle methods of joinery from thousands of years BC to the present day–the contrast between mortise and tenon construction (in use by the Egyptians with furniture found in tombs dating to 3,500 BC) and doweled construction in regular use by 1830.  While the chair parts are newly made they are all mortise and tenon construction whereas the ball and claw foot and rail on the right were joined with machine turned dowels.  The importance of this–and the keys to spotting one or the other–cannot be emphasized enough.  And we also examined the evolution of the second essential technique of fine joinery–the dovetail joint (simple, blind, blind mitered, slip).  Again this joinery was in use for thousands of years, then lost from the end of Rome to the mid-17th century when the Dutch claim credit for its discovery (actually re-discovery).  Agin we examined all of the 19th century mechanical substitutes for hand dovetailed joinery.

The history of hardware on an antique as well as the evolution of the styles and making of hardware is also important and again we had lots of pieces to share.

In all of the lectures other tools–hand and mechanical-were examined.  While I obviously cannot share all of it, here are some pieces of wood which show hand plane marks and the lines left by machine planers when they develop little nicks in their blades.  Can you tell which is which?

Here a group looks at some hardware bits with me:

Here students from Oregon, California, Texas, Florida. Connecticut and North Carolina gather around an array of hardware with me.  We were particularly thrilled that this year three new students to our courses were in their mid-20s and just beginning their careers as appraisers!   The opportunity to share information and learning opportunities with folks from around the country is an invaluable part of our annual seminars.

Here are some shots from day two as in groups of three they all explored a variety of pieces in the morning–every group studying every piece–and then joined together as Elizabeth and I explored with them their insights into each piece.

Examining a Scottish William IV Sideboard

Are those Pembroke leaves the right width?

Are the pulls original?

How's the color when the drawer is opened? Looking at oxidation issues.

The smile says it is right! Natalie coming up for air after a crawl under!

Is the table talking yet? It does--they all talk!

Every piece shared the story of it’s creation and it’s history over several hundred years of use.  It is so much fun to “hear” their stories revealed by oxidation patterns, patination, sharp edges of little repairs, and so much more.

Everyone left excited for next year–some wanted to pre-register as we will be bringing in a brilliant teacher on prints and paintings from Texas, Brenda Simonson-Mohle while Elizabeth and I will teach a two day wood identification course.  As soon as the third course is selected (or third and fourth if we do two one day seminars like this year) we will be letting you know the details!

2013 Whitehall Antiques Seminar

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

The first two days of the 33rd annual Whitehall Antiques Seminar were wonderful–eight lectures by the charming and fascinating Jane Shadel Spillman, recently retired curator of American Glass at the great Corning Museum, America’s preeminent museum on the study of glass from around the world.  From 3,500 BC to the 1920′s, Jane swept us on a fact filled study of the history of glass making with a major emphasis on glass of the past three centuries and particularly the American experience.  Not surprising for the author of fifteen major books and over 100 major articles on glass in America!

Here she is examining a study piece comparing the history of handle attachment on blown glass pitchers.  Did you realize that about 1870 a shift occurred from first attaching the handle at the top of the piece to first attaching it at the lowest point for the handle?  The starting point for attaching the molten glass handle is the largest point on the handle and the ending is the smallest point.  Prior to 1870 this gave all handles a slightly less elegant and well proportioned appearance.  Here is Jane with two examples–a clear ewer from about 1820 and a deep purple example from the 1880′s.

And here are the two pitchers to compare.

Having the strongest point lower on the body gives the sense of a far more durable and safe to handle product as well as a more graceful profile.

We also learned that America accounts for one of the two most important inventions in glassmaking–and the Romans the other.  About 100 BC the Romans invented the blowpipe which transformed glassmaking–speed, size and range of products increased instantly and exponentially.  Two American firms working simultaneously (and contentiously) account for the next great advance–pressed glass.  Again speed of production increased exponentially–and again the market for glass spread beyond the wealthy.

The blow pipe took glass from the ruling few to the wealthy where it remained for 2,000 years until America in the 19th century made glass available to the middle and working classes!  These c. 1825 glass pressing machines also transformed who could make glass.  To blow glass was an art that required 7 years of apprenticeship.  To press glass took six months of training!  One of the inventors at the time said he could take a man right from the fields and make him a competent glass presser in six months–and he could earn far more than in the fields.

This next photo is a lesson I can only describe.  Simultaneous with glass for the masses all sorts of fine glass was made.  In America from the 1880′s to World War I, what we call brilliant cut glass was one of the rages.  Both the large and small bowls in this photo are Brilliant Period American Cut Glass.  However there were two ways of making the blanks–the clear lead glass bowls and other popular forms of every type.  While only about five factories made the blanks, hundreds did the cutting of the blanks.  Either the blanks were hand blown or mold blown.  To tell the difference, slowly run your hand across the middle of the bowl, up the inside of a cream jug or pitcher, and so forth–if it is incredibly smooth it was HAND BLOWN.  If you feel undulations, it was made in a mold!  Usually the finest cutting is found on the hand blown pieces, as they were of course a more costly product to acquire for cutting.

The smaller of these two has far crisper cutting even though both are of the same time period and both are hand cut.  When you run your hand through the larger you feel gentle undulations.

Now go play with your own cut glass and see what type of original blanks your collection includes.

Summer Seminar Details

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

33rd Annual Summer Seminar Series on Antiques
Date: Jul 21, 2013, 9:00 AM
End Date: Jul 26, 2013, 5:00 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, NC – The Siena Hotel & Whitehall Antiques

Whitehall Antiques 33rd Annual Summer Seminars
Seminar Week: Sunday July 21st – Friday July 26th, 2013

This is an ideal learning opportunity for collectors, appraisers and dealers alike. You’ll learn insider tips and trade secrets from nationally known experts in all-day sessions featuring hands-on, object oriented instruction coupled with illustrated lectures and stimulating Q&A discussions. Of course, Appraisers receive seven re-certification hours per day of attendance. See you there!

2013 Lecturers: Jane Shadel Spillman, retired Curator of American Glass, Corning Museum of Glass; Elizabeth Lindquist, lecturer, co-owner and manager of Whitehall Antiques; David Lindquist, author, lecturer and co-owner of Whitehall Antiques. (See after registration form for bios.) Each are presenting lectures especially prepared for this year’s Summer Seminar Series.

July 21st & 22nd: American & European Glass
Presented by Jane Shadel Spillman, retired Curator of American Glass, Corning Museum of Glass

Jane Spillman, author of more than 15 books and over 80 scholarly articles for the world’s leading museums and antiques publications, will present an exhaustive two day study: English, Continental and American Glass of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries – Identification and Authentication. She will devote the first day to English and European glass and the dispelling of myths about American Colonial period glass, turning the second day to the development of pressed glass, cut glass and art glass. She will show you how every type of glass was made and the characteristic marks associated with that construction, a vital aspect of separating the authentic from the copy! The seminar will be augmented with hands-on examples and students are invited to bring pieces to share and have identified. Her latest co-authored book, Mt. Washington & Pairpoint Glass, Vol. 2, as well as her many years of intense research will be drawn upon in this exciting seminar. With resurgent glass collecting and climbing prices, this is a not to be missed event!
We are excited to have one of the truly preeminent scholars in the world today—don’t miss her insightful lectures on topics of crucial importance to every appraiser, dealer and collector. For those who missed her in June 2008, and heard how brilliant she is, don’t miss out again!

July 23rd-24th: Authenticating English & Continental Furniture, 1700-1835
Presented by Elizabeth Lindquist & David Lindquist, Whitehall Antiques, Chapel Hill, NC.

A highly detailed, hands-on and PowerPoint experience with European and English furniture also touching on Colonial furniture of North and South America and Asia, remembering that the sun never set on the British Empire! From the evolution of construction to the evolution of style, this course explores authentication issues in great depth and will include contrasting first period and revival furniture in England and Europe only (see David’s one day course below–a dovetail with this course). Day one will allow you to explore the breadth of the topic through PowerPoint presentations, followed by a physical examination of screws, nails, saw marks, plane marks, oxidation and other essential aspects of furniture construction – holding each item in your hot little hands! Day two, at Whitehall Antiques, will allow you to break up into very small groups guided by the experts to explore a range of period English and European furniture employing all the techniques learned in day one.

July 25th: American Victorian and Colonial Revival Furniture
Presented by David Lindquist, author of Colonial Revival Furniture and Victorian Furniture

Drawing upon David’s intensive research for these two important works in the field, this is an extensive PowerPoint study of the interweaving of the new styles associated with the Victorian era and the historic revival styles which occur simultaneously. Both draw on the immense innovation in tools and construction which occurred from 1830-1930. Furniture evolved from a small craft to a large industry in only 100 years. This immense change was facilitated by water, steam, and electrical power; propelled by the prosperity of a mushrooming middle class clientele; and made possible by fabulous increases in rapid and safe transportation creating new markets everywhere for goods. The fascination of this topic is that these two areas of study have traditionally been completely separated, and yet this analysis will show you that they are completely intertwined. Quality, style, and value points will be constantly addressed in this lecture. Each attendee will receive a free copy of David’s book Colonial Revival Furniture. This is a perfect follow-up course to the Authenticating English and Continental Furniture, as that course only explores revivalism in England and Europe.

July 26th: Assessing Antique Furniture with the Experts – To Value or Not To Value, That is The Question!
Presented by Elizabeth Lindquist & David Lindquist, Whitehall Antiques, Chapel Hill, NC.

How to use style points to quickly identify something worth looking at in more depth from pieces of lesser value. Once a piece of value is identified, a step by step examination follows of originality, construction, acceptable restorations, woods employed, and hardware history. In small groups with either David or Elizabeth (and switching mid-day to cover all chosen examples), you will study a range of antique pieces from America, England and Europe. Each piece will first be discussed from a visual perspective– what it appears to be and what makes it desirable. Then each piece will be dismantled and discussed–from brasses to saw marks to screw construction to types of nails, from pegs or pins to dowels, from hand turning to hand plane marks, from shrinkage to finish issues. Techniques for spotting repairs will be discussed, especially the issue of oxidation and shrinkage. Neat tricks to check that tops are original will be demonstrated and other invaluable hints shared.

Details, Details, Details:
Location: The Siena Hotel & Whitehall Antiques, both in the heart of Chapel Hill,NC

Airport: RDU (Raleigh Durham), please leave the morning after the lecture or late evening

On-Site Studies: July 24th – Whitehall Antiques; July 26th – Whitehall Antiques

Daily Seminar Schedule:
8:45 – 9:00 Registration, Coffee
9:00-10:45 Lecture
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:30 Lecture
12:30-1:45 Lunch on your own
1:45-3:15 Lecture
3:15-3:30 Break
3:30-5:00 Lecture and Q&A

Accommodations: The Siena Hotel is “North Carolina’s Premier European Luxury Hotel and Fine Dining Restaurant”, with an AAA four-diamond rating. Special discounted rate of $109/night includes a full buffet breakfast. Book early to receive this special rate; call (919)929-4000 or (800)223-7379 and reference Whitehall Antiques Seminar Series.

Traditional NC BBQ: Please join us for this annual event on Tuesday, July 23rd on the grounds of Whitehall Antiques at ‘The Villa’ starting around 6pm. There will be opportunities to join in Group dinners at various restaurants daily with fellow students and the educators.

2013 Whitehall Antiques 33rd Annual Seminar Series Registration Form

To Sign Up: Complete this form and fax (919)942-6600 (fax operates 11am-6pm Mon-Sat EDT) or mail it to 1213 E. Franklin St. Chapel Hill, NC 27514 with your 50% deposit.

$425 ____ July 21-22: American & European Glass with Jane Shadel Spillman

$425 ____ July 23-24: Authenticating English & Continental Furniture with The Lindquists

$225 ____ July 25: American Victorian & Colonial Revival Furniture with David Lindquist

$225 ____ July 26: Assessing Antique Furniture with The Lindquists

__________ Total

__________ Discount

__________ 50% Deposit

__________ Balance Due upon arrival

Seminar Registration & Discounts
Register early to insure your place, spaces are limited!

Registrations postmarked by May 21st qualify for a 10% discount off your total tuition – so don’t miss out!
Registrations postmarked by June 21st for all 4 courses, receive $75 Off.

Cancellation Policy: $50 non-refundable processing fee. No Refunds After June 15th.

Balances will be collected on the first morning of each session.

Mailing Address:



Email Address: _______________________________________________________

Phone: _______________________________________________________

Method of Payment: Check: _______
MC: _______ Visa: _______ Amex: _______

Card #: _______________________________________________________

Exp. Date: _______________________________

Security Code: _____________

Signature: _______________________________________________________

Note: Please provide billing address for credit card if it differs from mailing address.

Jane Shadel Spillman, Retired Curator of American Glass

Jane Shadel Spillman joined the Museum in 1965 and in 1978 became the Museum’s curator of American glass. Spillman has published numerous articles and books, including European Glass Furnishings for Eastern Palaces and The American Cut Glass Industry: T.G. Hawkes and His Competitors. She currently serves as editor of The Glass Club Bulletin. She also has curated many important exhibitions at the Museum, including Glass from World’s Fairs (1986), The Queen’s Collection: Danish Royal Glass (1996), Dining at the White House (1989), Glass of the Maharajahs (2006).
Spillman earned her A.B. at Vassar College and has a degree from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Training. She is a member of the American Association of Museums, where she has served on the Board, National Programming Committee, Governance Committee, and Curators Committee, of which she was chair for five years. She is also a member of the National American Glass Club, International Council of Museums, American Cut Glass Association, Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, Rushlight Club, and The Glass Circle, London. She has been the General Secretary of the International Association for the History of Glass since 2003.

David P. Lindquist, Whitehall Antiques

Nationally recognized dealer, lecturer, educator, appraiser, author, and broadcaster, Mr. Lindquist has played a prominent part in the antiques industry for over 35 years. He is a past president of the National Association of Dealers in Antiques and was a catalyst in the endowment of the Smithsonian Museum’s Cooper-Hewitt scholarship fund during his two terms. He is an Accredited Senior Appraiser in the American Society of Appraisers since 1981 and a member of the International Society of Appraisers. As such he has conducted many evaluation events across the country in association with historical societies, antiques shows, and other venues. He has lectured to groups as diverse as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, the Montgomery (AL) Landmarks Foundation, and at his alma mater, Duke University in Durham, NC. Each summer for 30 years he has led week long intensive antiques seminars, first at Lehigh University and now in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Mr. Lindquist is the author of a series of books on antique furniture: Colonial Revival Furniture With Prices, English and Continental Furniture With Prices, and Victorian Furniture With Prices, which have recently been re-released by Krause Publishing Co. under the single title, The Big Book of Antiques. In addition, he has edited four editions of The Official Identification and Price Guide to Antiques and Collectibles, published by Random House, and has written extensively for antiques trade journals, periodicals, and magazines.
As a sought-after authority on antiques, Lindquist has been featured in broadcasts such as ABC’s Prime Time Live and HGTV’s Today at Home and Our Place. With both a face and a name well known in the antiques and decorative arts field, Lindquist is a popular speaker and perennial favorite for a host of events.

Elizabeth R. Lindquist, Whitehall Antiques

Ms. Lindquist is one of the top young entrepreneurs within the antiques and decorative arts field. She is well recognized as a future leader of the industry, having already devoted much of her lifetime to the business. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999 with a degree in Communication Studies, she has been a full partner and is now President of Whitehall Antiques, which includes a regionally renowned retail shop and a 15 per year national antiques show schedule. She is a principal buyer for the company, traveling to England and France several times a year to discover and bring back the finest and the most unique in antiques and decorative arts.
Ms. Lindquist also manages the staff, plans and executes the company’s marketing, promotion, and advertising, coordinates client contact, and produces both the direct mail catalogs and the website. She has lectured at the High Point Furniture Market, the Whitehall Summer Seminar Series and for many local groups in North Carolina. She co-ordinates and directs, the Whitehall Antiques Summer Seminar Series, an intensive week long antiques program with visiting lecturers and students from all over the country held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As well as collaborating with her father and business partner, David Lindquist, on several articles published regionally and nationally.
Ms. Lindquist resides in Durham, NC with her husband, two young boys and lovely Labrador. She devotes her free time to charities for the betterment of children and women.


Is it a Semainier?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

A semainier is a seven drawer chest designed to hold a week’s worth of clothing–so is this faux semanier a semanier?  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It has seven drawers?!?

While there are clearly seven drawer faces on this handsome c. 1830-50 Restauration Period  tall narrow chest, in fact two of the drawer faces are joined and fall forward to reveal a rich bird’s eye maple and ebony trimmed writing cabinet.  Thus my tongue in cheek question as to what to call it!

The opened secretaire cabinet

There is a lot to admire in this piece from the simple architectural form set on a plinth base to the elegant book-matched flame mahogany veneers to the sleek moldings to the blindingly handsome interior.  The brown leather is clearly old–possibly original–with lovely patina.  It has been well protected within a tightly sealed cabinet and probably had minimal use compared to desks used in libraries, drawing rooms, household offices, etc and so it is quite possibly original.

This is a period that coincides with later Austro-Germanic Biedermier forms, the adaptive George IV-William IV and early Victorian styles of England and the American turn toward France in our American Empire (most often called Restauration with the French spelling).  Serene surfaces with little or no hardware reliant on splendid wood grains to create great drama are the hallmarks of all of these concurrent styles.

The last photo shows the type of drawer construction and secondary wood use associated with this period in contrast to 18th century construction.

Drawer construction

Let me share what I see in this photo as it is not immediately self evident.  First, the wood of the drawer sides (bottoms and backs) is fine oak, again very clean in a tightly constructed case.  The face of the drawer is veneered (look above, book-matched) onto oak and that is the distinct line that is about one half inch from the mahogany edge.  The next line to look at is clearly seen toward the bottom of the line of the dovetails–the cabinetmaker’s scribe line for precisely cutting the side of the drawer to accommodate the dovetail cut into the side of the drawer face. Fine woods and fine craftsmanship are the signs of great cabinetmaking.

This last photo also affords a very nice understanding of what has gone into this tall chest.  Dozens of veneer cuts, dozens upon dozens of molding pieces all mitered for a precise fit and glued to the oak subsurface, as the veneers were glued to the oak as well.  All of this was glue susceptible to moist climates–for this reason we bought this in Paris with about 18 pieces of the moldings thrown into the drawers, some more moldings hanging on for dear life (we taped them before leaving it for the shipper!), and three molding pieces missing (remade here in Durham by  a wonderful local cabinetmaker who works almost exclusively for Whitehall, as did his father for nearly 50 years before him!).

The size of this piece is distinctive and often associated with semainiers–55.5″ high, 29″ wide and 16.5″ deep–tall and slender.  In the mid-18th century they were quite delicate and by this Classical Period (the International Style name of this era) the form is powerful and architectural, yet at their best still slender and somehow graceful as the eye soars from the solid plinth base to the molded top edge.

So whether a semainier, a semainier with faux facade for a secretaire, or a tall secretaire chest–it is wonderful.

PS        The pair of Chinese Export Plates on the chest are in fact 19th century fakes by the great Edme Samson of Paris, late 19th century–for a serious discussion of Samson fakery revisit my April 16, 2012 Blog about a very important Samson Bulb Pot.

Catch ALL New Blog Posts

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Please become a “friend” of Whitehall Antiques on Facebook and you will always know when a new blog is posted.  I always put in a short facebook entry every time I post, sometimes with a photo to add interest.

Oriental Rug Seminar with Doug Lay

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

The final course for our Summer Antiques Seminar was two days with Doug Lay, one of the best educators and most delightful persons anywhere!  The seminar was sold out and most who attended were ready for more next year–Doug, however, says that like pregnancy he needs a few years to forget how grueling 14 hours of teaching in two days is!  Having prepared a superb booklet to guide us through his topic, he added a fascinating array of slides to make each point come alive, whether dining in the tent of his nomadic hosts seated on carpets surrounded with woven hangings, or riding his camel across a mountain pass–rugs were alive and palpable!

I can ony share some slides of our courses but perhaps one day I will bug Doug for a few downloaded slides to share as well.

Day Two--Hands On

While day one was all slides, tying symmetrical and  asymmetrical knots, learning a warp from a weft, a depressed warp from a non-depressed, etc–day two was in The Persian Carpet oriental rug gallery.  Here Doug is pointing out intricate details of a carpet–and of course it is all about what the back of the carpet reveals!

Noses to the carpet!

I was warned about no butt shots of the participants but even I have no idea who this is–so it just has to make a great point about getting down and really eyeballing the construction of a carpet!

A Shop Full Of Students and Carpets

The Persian Carpet is a visual feast–in the background on the walls are large modern handmade oriental carpets–the pieces that are small back left are frighteningly perfect newly made copies of antique pieces.  While there are good keys to spotting these when new, Doug’s comment was he feels for the appraisers, dealers, and collectors 25-50 years from now.  Interestingly these exceptional modern works of this traditional art are as expensive as what they copy, for the most part!

Doug also provided a great bibliography and had all of the books on display so students could examine them and be sure of what expenditures they might wish to make in building their personal libraries.





American Federal Furniture Seminar

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

We have just concluded our sold our seminar on American Federal Furniture and Its English and French Antecedents–what great fun and what a wonderful day at Richard Jennrette’s magnificently restored Ayr Mount plantation where we turned upside down and inside out the marvelous collection dominated by the work of Duncan Phyfe.  Elizabeth ended the first day of lectures and photo based examinations of the period, 1776-1830, with an introduction to the great Scottish born Duncan Phyfe, who, with Charles-Honore Lanuier, was the preeminent cabinetmaker of Federal New York City.  With the exception of the tragically short lived Lannuier, the Parisian cabinetmaker of federal New York, no other of the 200 cabinetmakers working in the city at that time could really hold a candle to the brilliance of Phyfe’s shop and his superb workers.  I had the pleasure of exploring Lannuier and Elizabeth prepared the class for the excitement of encountering dozens of Phyfe pieces at Ayr Mount.

The first photo is of us preparing to launch into the first day’s lectures–which covered seven intense hours of education.

The study begins!

Elizabeth waits patiently while dad launches into a bit of introductory history!


Neo-Classicism, our study unfolds

Elizabeth begins an exploration of the earliest beginnings of what in America will be the Federal Period–from revolution through the Articles of Confederation and finally the emergence of our constitutional government as it still, with minor modification, exists today.  She is exploring the international reach of the architectural and interior design revolution against the contorted if mystically beautiful designs of the rococo—the “new” classical period dominated by light forms, rectilinear designs,etc.  This was an evolutionary–nearly revolutionary–eruption based in large part on the discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum which brought to European and American eyes the delicacy of design during the Roman Empire, as well as the fanciful 1750-80′s drawings of Piranesi which were widely published and inspired near universal infatuation with the classical World.  At this point it had been two hundred years since the great Italian architect Palladio had reintroduced classical proportions and design to the Western world.  The intellectuals and leaders of America were no less enthralled with these new designs than were their contemporaries living in the “old world”–a world soon to see great advances from political freedom to industrialization and a rising middle/merchant class.

This first day carefully explored the basic range of the period as well as the influence of English and French design both on each other and on America.

Day two found, as noted, all 26 students at Ayr Mount where we divided into two groups, each exploring half of the collection in the morning, the second half in the afternoon.  I did half of the collection and Elizabeth explored half of the collection.  Here are some great photos made by Cory Crowther of the Ayr Mount staff showing our  various furniture explorations.

Elizabeth with a New York sideboard

Elizabeth has their rapt attention as she shows how curved surfaces were created after 1770 by gluing up scrap secondary woods into pieces suitable to cutting shaped surfaces which were then veneered with fine woods–simply opening any curved drawer or door made after 1770 reveals this “brick like” construction technique.

Exploring a table original to Ayr Mount

One of a pair of tables that by family tradition have been in Ayr Mount since its construction is explored by me–I am noting the glue blocked bottom of the hidden games pieces compartment located under the swivel top.  English trained cabinetmakers employed this technique while Lannuier and other French tradition cabinetmakers nailed the bottoms tightly to the bottom edges of their pieces.  Finding secondary woods closely associated with New York makers, I have suggested that the Kirkland family undoubtedly acquired these tables, as so many southerners did, from a major northern maker accustomed to “exporting” to the south as well as many other countries in our hemisphere.

More photos and commentary coming tomorrow!



V&M The Vintage and Modern Site

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Bill Indursky, the guru of trends in the collecting and design markets and co-founder of Vintage and Modern (V&M) website has lectured numerous times at the Hight Point Antique and Design Center,  as have I.  Happily he asked their very fine writer, Suzanne Charle, to write an article about my most recent lecture on What To Know Before You Buy.  It is a fun read and you can then really catch up with their strong web presence by going to:


It is worth your time to learn more about this excellent site.

Happy browsing