Restoration or Not - New Haven Durbar

Discussion in 'Clock Case Restoration and Repair' started by Dick C, Jun 7, 2019.

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  1. Dick C

    Dick C Registered User

    Oct 14, 2009
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    This is a relatively rare model as it cannot be found in Tran's book. I have only been able to find 3 references online showing this model of the clock.

    What might you do to this clock case? I understand that it comes down to a personal preference; however, given the rarity of the clock is it better to remove the grime and/or better to leave it as is? The movement is running fine and the dial shows no flaws in it. The inlaid copper and pewter (silver?) are all intact with just a little lifting of the center of two of the long strips of copper.

    The design for this clock has been attributed to Harvey Ellis as there are inlays like this on other furniture. It is said that Harvey Ellis also worked for Gustav Stickley for a while.

    Two of the photos show the left and right portions of the back of the top which were gently wiped down with goop. It appears that it exposed the shellac surface.

    What would your guidance be?

    Thank you
    Dick

    Durbar Front.jpg Durbar Left Front.jpg IMG_1314.JPG IMG_1317.JPG
     
  2. Joseph Bautsch

    Joseph Bautsch Registered User
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    The "grime" is a very old shellac finish. Cleaning it up will remove a lot if not all of the old finish. If you want to refinish I would use the Goop on the rest of the clock to clean it up. Any other kind of stripper or refinisher may cause damage to the inlays. In using the Goop be careful around the inlays. Goop should not disturb them but it still pays to be careful. I would then follow up the cleaning with a coat of shellac to replace the finish that is no longer there. That being said you could also just leave it as it is. The clock is showing its age which is what antiques should do. Your clock your choice.
     
  3. Dick C

    Dick C Registered User

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    Thank you. I didn't realize that it could be old shellac. I have seen alligator like surfaces with dark areas; however, never one like this.

    The surface reminded me of the clock having been in a room with wood or coal smoke attacking the surface.

    Decision made - I will not touch the surface.

    Again, many thanks.
     
  4. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    #4 rmarkowitz1_cee4a1, Jun 7, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
    I must say I like the overall style and Arts and Crafts inlay (yes Ellis did use that type of inlay on his "Mission" furniture).

    No comment on restoration. However, many pieces of Mission/Arts and Crafts furniture were originally given a dark finish. Think of the fumed oak pieces. Removing that does hurt value. Don't know if that is the instance here.

    But honestly, and with all due respect, when I look at the clock, I'm reminded of that Fats Waller song with the lyrics:

    "Yes, your feet's too big
    Don't want ya 'cause ya feet's too big
    Can't use ya 'cause ya feet's too big
    I really hate ya 'cause ya feet's too big"

    Waller_Fats.jpg

    RM
     
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  5. Joseph Bautsch

    Joseph Bautsch Registered User
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    Alligatoring is usually the result of the clock being left in sun light for a long period of time. The heat thus generated along with the exposure to ultraviolet light really causes a lot of damage. Smoke from coal, wood, cigaret smoke, or oil heating systems also caused a lot of damage. Usually smoke damage or ultraviolet light will show up as a patchy effect with some areas of the finish worse than others. In your case I don't see any of that affecting the finish. It has the classic very old shellac finish having simply darkened with age.
     

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