Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Peck and Hill Buffet Table
Hello Mr.Taylor, My husband just bought a buffet table at an estate sale. The lady said it was given to her great grandmother in the late 1800's and passed to her grandmother then mother. Her mother just passed away.Can you please tell me what you can about the piece and what you think it's worth? Should I insure it? Also, should I have it refinished or leave it alone? What can I use to clean it with? Thank you very much for your time.
Christine - Oral family history, even some else's, can be quite misleading without the facts. That buffet was factory made in the Depression era of the 1930s. It is made of walnut veneer and secondary woods, primarily gum stained to look like walnut.
The style is part of the Colonial Revival period of American furniture when styles from our colonial past were reproduced. The style reproduced in your buffet is called Jacobean named for King James I of the early 17th century. The Latin term for James is Jacob. The style is readily identifiable by the large bulb turnings on the legs. It was popular in the American colonies in the late 17th and early 18th century and was revived for use during the Depression in the late 1920s to late 1930s.
While it is an impressive piece and will last many generations, in today's market it would sell at auction only in the $100 range.
Since the piece has no antique value refinishing is a matter of taste. The rule of thumb in most 20th century furniture is that well done repair, refinishing and restoration will improve both the appearance and current market value.
The basic care of furniture in relatively good condition includes cleaning with mineral spirits (paint thinner to remove old dirt, wax and oil – no it won’t hurt the existing finish, different chemistry). After wiping down with spirits allow the piece to dry overnight. Then apply a thin coat of paste wax, BriWax or Howard’s works well. Use tinted wax to enhance the color. After that dry dust only or use Swiffer dusters. Reapply wax once a year. Do not use any other polish and do not use products that contains oil. Also remember that the grocery store does not sell any product that has to do with furniture maintenance and that includes the most famous spray "polish" and any other product that contains silicone. Use no oil or polish other than paste wax - no lemon oil, no Old English - nothing but paste wax. Period.
Thanks for writing.