George III Heppelwhite Secretaire Chest

George Hepplewhite 1727 – 1786 was a cabinetmaker He is regarded as having been one of the big three English cabinetmakers of the 18th century, along with Sheraton and Chippendale. There are no pieces of furniture made by Hepplewhite known to exist, though he gave his name to a distinctive style of light and elegant furniture that was fashionable between about 1775 and 1800.  One characteristic that is seen in many of his designs is a shield-shaped chair back, where an expansive shield appeared in place of a narrower splat design.  It is known that he based himself in St Giles, London where he opened a shop with his wife Alice.  In 1788 after his death she published a book containing 300 of his designs, The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Guide with two further editions published in 1789 and 1790.

I purchased this superb Heppelwhite secretaire chest of drawers some years ago in Sydney, It has never been touched, that is to say it has it's original late 18th c finish. It has a few dings, but given to James our conservator will come up beautifully whilst retaining it's original finish.

The first thing the conservator will do is to clean it with a special solution of reviver, then any loose joins will be re-glued with traditional pearl glue. After this any missing pieces will be carefully matched and replaced from our extensive supply of old timber, collected over many years. At this stage any repairs to the drawer runners & slides will be carried out by adding on a sliver of English oak to the bottom of the drawer runners and or turning over the slides. After blending any repairs as to be invisible the piece will then be waxed several times until the right glow is achieved. At no point do we ever strip or sand anything, I always say you can immediately tell if a conservator is any good by the lack of sandpaper in the workshop. This is the thin line between restoration & conservation. Antique furniture is always more desirable and beautiful with it's original patina intact.