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"The Objective of the Conservator is not to change, alter or attempt to improve the original

qualities of the object, but to preserve its integrity for future generations study and


This is an excellent example of a mid 19thC Gothic-style slipper chair that retains its original finish. The chair is made of walnut with a rosewood faux graining. Over the years the shellac coating has deteriorated enough to cause the film to "crackle". The added layers of old polish and waxes has collected dirt and obscured the surface. It was popular to use oil, mostly linseed oil, to "feed" the wood and finish, which can NOT be done. The oil has attracted the grime and darkened on it's own as it polymerized ("cross-linked") locking in the dirt.

The objective of this treatment was to remove the deteriorated polishes and oils to expose the original shellac coating and preserve the faux grained rosewood. Once the dirt was removed, the "crackled" shellac needed to be saturated to allow the light to pass and reflect off of the highly decorative faux graining.

That was accomplished by creating an artificial saliva solution in the lab as the water-based cleaner. Once rinsed and dry, Paraloid B-72 (15% in xylene) was brushed on to fill the crazing of the shellac and create and homogenized clear film. Xylene was the chosen solvent due to the fact that the B-72 is highly soluble in it, but has no affect on the shellac. This makes the treatment completely re-treatable by being able to remove the B-72 and expose the original surface unaffected. 


August 4, 2011


Mid 18thC Northern European Spice Cabinet

18 3/4W X 11D X 13 1/4H

Maple or unknown fruitwood veneer on pine substrate

Interior compartment has chessboard design on floor.

Drawer interiors exhibit marble paper linings.


  • Overall structurally sound
  • Both locks loose, found in drawers. Both locks spring loaded, typical of Northern European design. Two keys were found inside, however, they are not original and do not function. Exterior lock has been repaired and has loose parts. (see figure 1)
  • Door hinges loose, nails on door side replaced with small screws.
  • Left-Proper side lift handle loose and missing backplate.
  • Both side lift handles exhibits traces of possible paint decoration.
  • Left-Proper side has section of applied molding missing
  • Left-Proper side veneer damaged and missing at rear.
  • Small veneer loss on Right-Proper side at rear.
  • Tape residue across both doors.
  • Four small interior drawers may be replacements; two are definitely, including the pulls. The “wave” carvings on two are clearly replacements. (see figures 2&3)
  • Two other pulls are replacements..
  • Surface coating does not fluoresce under Ultra-violet light, suggesting a traditional oil and wax finish. However, the interior drawer surfaces appear to have a dark material applied later, obscuring gilt(?) decorations.
  • All surfaces are heavily soiled; exterior surface appears to have been oiled with linseed oil which has created an uneven dark appearance.
  • Unexplained wood patches in edges of doors at hinges.
  • Astragal on door is steel and may be a later replacement.
  • Some minor loose veneer on doors.
  • Unassociated drawer pull found inside.


  • Stabilize old repairs on outer lock. Find appropriate key. Also for interior lock.
  • Remove doors using replacement screws. Stabilize hinges.
  • Remove tape residue with mineral spirits.
  • Remove L-P side lift handle, Recreate missing backplate.
  • Clean metal with 10% formic acid. No attempt to remove the traces of paint decoration, nor replace it.
  • Make latex mold of existing molding on L-P side and create replacement in polymer. Attach new molding with B-72 adhesive.
  • Reposition existing veneer on L-P side. Cut new veneer to fit existing losses on both sides.
  • Attempt to reduce the very dark costing on inter drawer faces in an attempt to expose the possible gilt decoration.
  • Clean all wood surfaces with Artificial Saliva ( a water-based solution imitating saliva)
  • Wax all surfaces.
  • Dry clean interior paper lined drawers with dry eraser.
  • Find appropriate replacement drawer pulls to match with existing original.

Estimated costs for treatment……………………………………..$

A 50% deposit is requested………………………………………

Accepted by________________________________Date________________

                             OWNER/AUTHORIZED AGENT

Respectfully submitted,

Craig Deller



Naper Settlement

523 S. Webster Street

Naperville, Il


RE: Questers Sofa/Murray Home


Sofa Circa 1845-50

Accession # 7217.1


Mahogany and Mahogany veneers on pine

73W X 31H X 25D

Black horsehair upholstery


  • Frame is structurally sound with some movement in the arm joints at the front apron
  • The horsehair fabric is split in several places (nine in the seat cushion, several on the back with heavy damage on the arms)
  • All of the upholstery are modern ( mid 20thC ) replacements
  • The show cover exhibits fading from ultraviolet light, particularly on the back cushion
  • The webbing has collapsed on the L-P side and the R-P side sags
  • The seat cushion is missing several tufting buttons
  • There is a veneer loss on the L-P end of the crest rail
  • The surface coating fluoresces orange indicating a recent shellac (50-75 years)
  • Coating is moderately soiled
  • The casters are modern replacements
  • The pine back has two joint separation with the ends heavily deteriorated from numerous nails and screws
  • There is coating loss on the feet


  • Remove the upholstery including the modern webbing and added cambric
  • Remove modern casters
  • Remove the back from the frame
  • Rejoin the two joint separations
  • Consolidate the deteriorated wood on the end with two part urethane
  • Replace veneer loss on L-P crest rail (color and finish to blend)
  • Clean existing shellac coating with artificial saliva
  • Re-pad the surface with ethanol to even shine
  • Compensate coating loss on feet with tinted shellac
  • Stabilize arm/apron joints with hide glue
  • Secure splits in seat and back with BEVA 371 film and Reemay
  • Replace missing tufting button on seat cushion
  • Replace damaged webbing with new.
  • Damaged horsehair will be removed from the arms and sent to a textile conservator
  • Reattach conserved horsehair
  • Attempt to reduce fading on back cushion with water dyes
  • Reattach back

Costs will be determined after consultation with textile conservator

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