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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Painted Duncan Phyfe Style Table


Hand Painted Duncan Phyfe Style Table 2
Hand Painted Duncan Ph  
Hand Painted Duncan Phyfe Style Table
Hand Painted Duncan Ph  
QUESTION: Hello Bob,
I would like to get your feedback about refinishing a Duncan Phyfe Style table that has some hand painted edges on the table top and also hand painting on the two pedestals. The hand painting is signed R. Welch. The Table appears to be mahogany.
If at all possible, my husband would like to preserve the hand painting and is thinking of just touching up the black areas around the edge with black paint. Leave the pedestals as they are, they seems to be reasonably O.K.
The center inside the painted edges is the main problem area, with lots of watermarks and some scratches. He is thinking that the watermarks are in the shellac and not the wood. Therefore he figures he could apply steel wool to the shellac to remove the water marks. Then put varathane on the whole table top, including the pained edges. Please let us know if you think this is a crazy idea bound to fail, or if there is a reasonable chance of making this a nice looking table that someone will want to buy?
Any other suggestions are most welcome, except suggestions to use shellac.... shellac flakes have been in the fridge for over a year, clearly not going to happen.... He uses either varnish oil as finish, or varathane....
Could you also tell the era when this table was made ? We think sometime in the 1920-40 ?
Is there nowadays any demand for a hand painted tables of this kind?

We are very much looking forward to your reply

ANSWER: It is unlikely the coating is shellac although it may be.  you can fluoresce the coating with uv light and if it fluoresces orange then it is likely shellac.  also you can use alcohol, not rubbing alcohol but ethanol by dampening a qtip and rolling it on the surface, if it softens the coating is is likely shellac.

chances are it is lacquer.

mechanically trying to remove the marks would not be my first choice.  first, clean the surface with mineral spirits.  should take over an hour to do right.several times using several cotton rags.  changing the rag and spirits often, moving around dirt using a dirty rag defeats the process.  once clean, you should try 'blush eliminator' by gently spraying it on the top then walk away for a day.  the blush eliminator or quick blush eliminator will soften the coating to allow the moisture trapped to escape so you cannot do this in high humidity, it must be a clear and dry day.  blush eliminator and quick blush eliminator can be purchased from konig NA or from wood finishers depot in texas.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thank you Bob for the info. Did we assume correctly that your recommendation to use blush eliminator were for use on lacquer finish only? In any event,since there were so many areas to deal with that had water marks and scratches, and also it has been quite humid lately, he decided to strip and sand the whole unpainted interior area, stain it and then varnish it. So far there is only one coat of varnish on, it already looks very promising...
Could you please tell me if this table would fall into the 1920-40 era, or another time span?

if you stripped the top then the white haze, bloom, should be gone.  the haze in in the coating not on the wood.++the table is 20s-40s.++

blush eliminator works on shellac, lacquer.  not knowing what varnish you are using i cannot comment on that.  if it is a urethane varnish then no, it will not work but you shouldnt need to use it on the varnish.

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robert klein


In regards to American antique, vintage and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing, and value. I do not study mid century and later furniture nor do I deal in lamps, and other smalls. You may ask for values and I will give you current market values, I will not give you 'feel good' values. Understand that there are many factors that contribute to market value. If you want a feel good, unrealistic number, please call a local inexperienced appraiser. It is my desire to help you and in doing so I increase my knowledge as well. For that I thank you.


I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars by various organizations, institutions, and private collectors.

Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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