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10 - Antique Shoppe -
                                                                                         Michael – The short answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. You have to think
           Questions &                                                            A. of the finish on your furniture like the finish on your car. Both are
                                                                                  similar synthetic coatings that protect the body. On the car it’s protecting
                                                                                  metal. On the table it’s protecting wood. You wouldn’t apply oil to the
           Common Sense Answers                                                   finish of your car. Think what it would look like in a few days. It would be
                                                                                  covered with a film of dust and dirt that has clung to the oil coating. The
                                         with Fred Taylor                         same thing happens on a smaller scale when you apply oil to furniture. It
                                                                                  never hardens and it leaves a streaky surface that evaporates very slowly,
                                                                                               trapping all the microscopic dust and dirt in it.
                                                                                                  Most of the oil found in furniture polish is mineral oil,
                Hello Fred - 20 years ago I was a professor at the
        Q. University of Kentucky, in Lexington. When I lived                                  a petroleum derivative. Many manufacturers add a lemon
                                                                                               scent and call it “lemon oil.” In fact lemon oil is a commercial
        there  I bought a old bed at a massive gothic estate. The                              degreaser and is used in commercial janitorial cleaning
        older woman who owned the gothic revival home had died                                 applications. It has nothing at all to do with care of furniture
        in the bed, and no one wanted it after that. The woman’s                               finishes.
        daughter was quite old and she said it was from England,                                  Remember, when you put your hand on your table top
        1820’s. but I could tell it was machine made, and put the                              you are not touching wood. You are touching the synthetic
        date later. My best guess would make it an English or                                  finish. The wood itself needs nothing, not oiling, not feeding
        American neo or gothic revival bed about 1840.                                         – nothing. It is dead. The finish preserves and protects it.
           It is made wholly of very fine grained mahogany. Its
        design is something like that of  a sleigh bed with head                               Take care of the finish. What the finish really wants is a light
                                                                                               coat of paste wax once a year and dusting in between. Good
        board and footboard being identical on both ends and                                   waxes are BriWax and Howard’s.
        finished inside and out so it can be placed in the middle
        of a room or its side against a wall. Despite it being neo-
        gothic, is it decidedly plain, like church pews but still very                         The trefoil design of the post is surely a Gothic revival element but the bed is
        ecclesiastical in detail - i.e. pointed arches or ogee arches                          from the Empire revival of the late 19th century.
        with strong buttressed bottom posts. It still has the original
        small wood wheels on bronze or brass fittings that are
        severely tapered with a ball socket on the end. You can’t find these at all                      PINELLAS COUNTY
                                                                                                      Antique Dealers
        anymore. The side rails are plain but with modestly buttressed like panels     1. Jewel Antique Mall
        that brace the head and foot boards. The rails are hand marked with a       2. Laura Collum Antiques
        number punch in large Roman numerals so they fit properly. They attach to     3. The Silver Queen                6. Asian Willow
        the head and footboards with iron bayonets that go into a large iron T slots     4. Antique Marketplace           2629 Central Ave. • 727-321-1100
        and drop down to lock. I have included a few photos. Hope to hear from                                           7. Burchard Galleries, Inc.
        you. Warm regards, Shawn B.                                                 5. Antique Galleries                  2528 30th Ave. N. • 800-520-2787
                                                                                         of St. Petersburg
               Interesting story about the bed. I was raised in the South so I am       450 34th Street N. • 727-321-3331    8. Andrea and Friends
        A. familiar with Gothic Revival architecture. Your bed definitely was
        not made in 1820. It has more of a Late Classicism look to the style from
        mid century but instead of the sleigh bed ends it has the trefoil post. I have
        an 1840 sleigh bed so I am very familiar with the construction. Beds made
        during this period had attaching hardware that consisted of a recessed       2  1
        bolt in the side rail that engaged a nut in the headboard and footboard.            3
        The hardware you describe, the iron bayonets that engage the “T” slots
        in the post, came much later. That is a late Victorian concept from the
        1870s or later, definitely post Civil War. The evolution of bed hardware is
        explained and illustrated in detail in my book. The detail of the casters also
        fits a later century form. I believe the bed is factory made from the Second
        Empire Revival period that started in the late 1890s and lasted until WWI.
        It was called the “Colonial” style then. There is an excellent line drawing
        of a typical Gothic Revival bed, circa 1833, illustrated in “Field Guide to
        American Antique Furniture” by Joseph Butler, published by Henry Holt,
        one the best reference books I have ever found. It is quite a bit more
        elaborate than the one you own. Other Gothic examples similar to this be                                                     4
        can be seen in “American Furniture of the 19th Century 1840-1880” by
        Eileen and Richard Dubrow, Schiffer Publishing.
                Hello, I wondered if it is okay to use lemon oil polish like …… (a very
        Q. famous brand name) on fine wood like my grandmother’s c. 1954
        mahogany dining table and other fine wood furniture. Thank you, Michael                                                                     8
          Send your comments, questions and pictures to me at PO Box 215, Crystal River, FL 34423 or email them
        to me at                                                                                                 6
          Visit Fred’s website at and check out the downloadable “Common Sense
        Antiques” columns in .pdf format. His book “HOW TO BE A FURNITURE DETECTIVE” is now available for
        $18.95 plus $3.00 shipping. Send check or money order for $21.95 to Fred Taylor, PO Box 215, Crystal River,
        FL 34423
          Fred and Gail Taylor’s DVD, “IDENTIFICATION OF OLDER & ANTIQUE FURNITURE”, ($17.00 + $3.00 S&H)
        are also available at the same address. For more information call (800) 387-6377 (9AM-4PM Eastern, M-F
        only), fax 352-563-2916, or e-mail All items are also available directly from the
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