Antique Goncalo Alves davenport

The antique davenport desk was first recorded in the George III period of 1790, in the records of the renowned cabinet maker Gillows of Lancaster it states ‘Captain Davenport desk’. It was built and commissioned for Captain Davenport and was the first example of this type of small Mahogany writing desk called by the captain’s name. During the late Georgian and Victorian eras the davenport was mainly used by the Lady and would have of a small chest of drawers with a desk on top. The antique davenport desk changed very little in design over the many years it was in production. Most antique davenports have four drawers that open at one side (Sometimes concealed by a cupboard door ) and has faux drawer fronts on the opposite side. These 19th Century desks are fitted with casters at the bottom so they can be moved around easily and the sloping lid will have a leather writing surface that lifts up on a hinge. The best examples have a ‘piano top’ whereby the top looks like the back of a piano, when pushed on, it opens up revealing lots of lovely compartments, usually built in a Burr Walnut. The Victorian davenport desk was more elaborately decorated with scrolled or turned supports that allow a recessed space for more leg room. Inlay, decorative brass, fretwork carvings and wood turned knobs was used. The antique davenport design was still in production in the Edwardian period

The antique Goncalo Alves davenport desk from around 1830 come in for restoration , the desk was constructed from mahogany with oak draw linings and veneered in Goncalo Alves , this timber is member of the ebony family . Unfortunately it’s had some bad repairs in the past . In the past the restorer had used some pale mahogany veneers to use as a replacement veneer, theses had dried up and cracked, these would need to be replaced with correct timber to match near as possible The top slides forward and allows the person to sit at it as a desk . This had stuck and would need some attention The top of the desk would have a leather replaced and along with the wood crossbanding replaced due to poor repairs in the past

The davenport desk had the top removed and spent sometime sorting out the slide mechanism, thus was down to somebody using grease to help the metal slide in a grove. This had blocked up with dirt and grime . Once it was cleaned out and a light sand due to some movement in the wood the top would slide much easier . The fall was my next bit to be restored . The old repairs was removed along with the leather . This showed up a large shrinkage split and I would need to completely take to top apart and rebuild the top to close the crack. In doing so I would need to remove the lock catch and re position it once I fitted back to the top . Once repaired I thinned down solid timber and cross banded the top ready for a new veneer.

The carcass was next to be done more old repairs were removed from the carcass and their were some blistered veneers around the carcass . Theses had old glue injected underneath to wash out any old glue and dirt . Then fresh animal skin glue (hide glue) was injected back in and either cramped down or using a flat peace of wood and heavy weights pressed down . Thus was left until the next day before I could continue with my restoration. All of the bad repairs were taken out and other chips were repaired and levelled down ready for the next stage. We’re it would be cleaned and French polished

The davenport was cleaned using methylated Spirit and fine wire wool , the wire wool will lift the dirt from the surface with out stripping the colour and age from the pace of wood . Also doing this washes some of the old dirt and grime into the new repairs helping to age and colour up the new repairs. The davenport was then rubbed back to remove any last traces of dirt from the surface using a fine wire wool. Then I could traditionally French polish the davenport using a white polish . Which will not add any colour to the veneers and change it in any way . Once a body of polish was done and allowed to sink in to the timber I would rub back and then finally finish the French polishing. It before this I would leather the top with a green hide and give it a small thin gold lining .once the polishing was all done and waxed back to knock back the new look from the French polish I could then deliver it back to my customer ready to be used again

All work can be provided with a quotation for the necessary work I can be contacted through my website

Davenport restoration
Before and after

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