I'm partial to traditional Chinese furniture and fascinated by the
used, though it takes some digging to find info on their joinery.
10 nice Chinese pieces of furniture - in what is referred to as
which can be any number of species of wood.
Yesterday, while scouting a place to take my "kids" to dinner, I came
an Outpost of Heaven - for me - a newly opened store filled with antique
Chinese furniture - three large rooms of the stuff. Oddly enough, the
is owned by a Russian family from St. Petersburg. The son was very
and had no problem with me climbing under tables and opening doors and
drawers, peeking inside and closely examining details. I recognized
of the traditional joints - even though, ironically, they are hidden
where you can't actually see them. But if you know where and what to
for, many of them are obvious - long table aprons bridle joined to
legs, trip mitered corners with integral tenon into the underside of the
mortise and tenoned "clouds" and table top ends' "upsweeps" which serve
the same function as a breadboard end.
Because many of the pieces are pretty old - 150 to 200 years old, some
of the joints have opened - just enough to reveal some internal details.
Some were more rustic - with unrefined - and therefore more obvious
I didn't want to wear out my welcome so I only stayed for maybe a half
an hour. The young man was very accomodating, patient and didn't
seem too disappointed that I didn't ask about any prices.
Now I'm considering making them a proposal. I'll pay them $100 and
they'll allow me to photograph anything in the store I want a picture of
- in one hour (or so) - and promise not to make any copies of any of the
pieces in the store. Maybe, if I pique their curiousity - they might
remove a table top - if it's loose.
I wonder if any of these pieces have Golden Ratio proportions?
Perhaps the store owner has seen Norm on TV doing his examination and
measurement of antique pieces so he can make a copy in his shop. All Charlie
might have to say is that he would refer any inquires to "????'s" antique
shop. Free advertising has certain benefits.
Me, too. Living in a town that was predominately military (at one
time 4 major bases in the city limits!) there have been many times
where I have been in houses that have traditional Asian furniture that
was made in China. From the age of my clients, I would guess that
most of it was brought here in the 60s and 70s. Some of these folks
have entire houses full of the authentic stuff that they bought in
their travels while on leave when stationed overseas. Of course, free
shipping to have these treasures returned didn't hurt much either.
I first noticed the carvings on the screens and table top boxes there
were on marble topped coffee tables. Then I saw wooden hinges,
sliding dovetails, backwards looking dovetails (to me, anyway) and
lots of clever work inherent in designs that didn't need mechanical
fasteners. Some of the joints in pieces I have seen would easily
compete with the finest Japanese examples.
allow me to photograph anything >in the store I want a picture of - in one hour
(or so) - >and promise not to make any copies of any of the
Certainly worth a try. I haven't had anyone tell me no yet. We had a
new Amish furniture store open up about 75 miles north of town. I was
cruising through one day enjoying the hill country and stopped in.
The owners were there, and they were delighted that I wanted to take
pictures, and even gave me a hand full of cards.
They brought the stuff to sell because of the obvious quality of
workmanship and materials. It was a cut above the norm for this type
of work, so I wanted to take some pictures. I asked first, and they
readily agreed. While there they got a quick education on the origins
of their "prarie/Stickley" inpired furniture which they thougtht was
some kind of design from the Amish.
Nope. It was an almost EXACT copy of the furniture style found in
Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water" house. FLW designed that
furniture for that house specifically for that house, chairs, tables
and all. The owner would have talked to me all day about it if I had
the time, as he was knocked down to think that it had such a regal
BTW, those tall looking backs on those chairs are actually quite
Taking into consideration the Chinese culture, they probably had it
long before the Italians put it to a "rule".
When you get some pictures of the interesting joints, I would love to
I am wondering Charlie, if in those days they used hand powered Domino
One of my interests is in Japanese swords. I can't afford the multi-
thousand examples, but have dealt in the multi-hundreds. Just two
years ago, if you saw a WW2 Japanese sword it would almost certainly
be genuine and of _some_ interest, even if it wasn't a particularly
good example. Now though, you simply can't find one anywhere for the
waist-deep piles of Chinese crap made last week. The market isn't just
flooded, it's washed away by the deluge.
Furniture is rather better though. There's crap around, although much
of it Indonesian rather than Chinese, especially right down at the
bottom end. If you look though, even in a smaller UK city you can find
really excellent Chinese furniture at attractive prices --
particularly chairs. Of course this stuff was made yesterday so it's
far from "antique", but it's worthwhile product with the sophisticated
joinery that has always been the hallmark of Chinese chairmaking.
Most of the wardrobes and junk, and many of the tables, but the more
traditionally styled chairs and some of the tables are well worth a
Actually wasn't that concerned about it. I wasn't buying any of it.
Some of the stuff I have seen here was bought literally 20 years after
WWII. The counterfeit industry was certainly alive then, but these
folks are and have been discerning collectors for decades.
Note that I said it these items were bought in tehe 60s and 70s.
Indonesian rather than Chinese, >especially right down at the bottom end. If
you look >though, even in a smaller UK city you can find
from "antique", but it's worthwhile >product with the sophisticated joinery
that has always >been the hallmark of Chinese chairmaking.
traditionally styled chairs and some of the >tables are well worth a closer
I agree. Even knowing that the piece is nothing more than a wooden
product, there isn't any need to throw the baby out with the bath
water. While this certainly wasn't what referred to in my original
response, one could make the case that good work is where you find it,
regardless of age or origin.
I own some 200 year old coins that used to be valuable. Not anymore, since
there isn't any way to tell them from the Chinese counterfits; without
proper documentation. My story of a guy buying some clothes with them from
my Grandfather in 1920 isn't considered proper documentation. Oh well.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.