Friday, March 23, 2012

The dresser

This is a strange stage in our lives. We went up to my mother's flat today to meet a valuer who was looking at her stuff and advising what it might make at auction. In most cases, as we knew, not very much. You don't get a lot for second-hand furniture and ornaments.
This dresser is perhaps the most valuable item. I wish we could keep it but it's quite large and we have nowhere for it in our house. (Anyway, Mr Life doesn't like it. But I could probably persuade him... anyway, we don't have a space for it unless we got rid of the piano, which Shostakovich is currently making me think might not be a bad idea. Gosh, my current piece of music is hard.)
The dresser isn't a family heirloom. My parents bought it with the flat, 21 years ago. But it's quite old. It's an eighteenth century piece but the valuer thought that the top bit had been replaced and was perhaps nineteenth century. It all looks the same age to me, but I assume he knows what he's talking about. Open shelves like that get broken when dressers are dragged about, evidently, and have to be replaced.
I just like it because it's old. I like to speculate about where it's been, what it's seen (well, ok, not seen exactly, but what scenes it's sat in the middle of) and the variety of things that have sat on its shelves and been tucked away in its cupboards. It would be even more interesting if there were any way of finding any of this out, of course, but there's not.
It's rather depressing to consider that it's probably got another few centuries in it, while we... . The previous owners of the house lived there for twenty years or so also, but I've no idea where they got the dresser. My parents' ownership of it has been quite brief in terms of its existence.
The valuer said that it's English and provincial. I imagine it sitting in some farmhouse kitchen in Derbyshire or somewhere, its cupboards filled with pots and pans, and with plates propped up on the shelves between meals of ... I don't know ... soups and stews or whatever farmers ate in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
I'm quite tempted to slip a note in one of the drawers telling its new owners where it's been for the last forty years. It would be good if they then added to the note so that in another couple of hundred years, when we're all completely forgotten, the dresser would have its own little, partial, history.
Yup. Feeling really cheerful tonight... .


Dartford Warbler said...

What about writing your family`s part in the dresser`s story in a small notebook, so that its next owners could add their own story? Over time, what a fascinating diary that would make.

It does look a fine old piece of furniture. I wonder too about all the women who have polished it and cared for it over the centuries. The untold stories......

Dispersing your parent`s home is such a sad and difficult thing to do, especially when one of them is still alive. We had to do the same for my late Mum. Not easy. I do feel for you.

Jennifer said...

It is an interesting piece of furniture - no doubt about it! I like the idea of a 'dresser diary' too.

Ann Martin said...

Oh yes, leave a note in it... perhaps under one of the drawers. Who knows who will find it and in what century?!

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Isabelle, it's so sad that you have to sell it. Maybe you should put an addition onto your house LOL. Ok, I know it's not a funny time, but you know, I always have to try a little cheer. Even if it's stupid. What an interesting piece. When the top and bottom are different we call that a married piece. Good Luck -- I know this downsizing isn't easy. ;-(

Marcheline said...

Oh, if I lived over there, I'd be at your door with my little pickup truck! Not that I have room for it, either, but...

Definitely put the note in the drawer! Some antique freak will find it one day and be as thrilled about it as if they'd found buried treasure!

Relatively Retiring said...

It's an interesting thought that we don't actually own anything - we just look after things for a while.
It's a lovely idea to leave a note. Provenance adds value as well as great interest. During restoration work my parents left a sealed time capsule in a wall of the very old house they occupied, and I wonder who will eventually find it.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Definitely the sort of day that calls for a toasted teacake or two .
Someone will pounce on such a handsome piece and love it .... it would look wonderful against a deep red or green wall .

Lucille said...

That's a very good idea. You sometimes see names chalked onto the bottom of drawers or inside cupboard doors to indicate who the piece is to be delivered to but otherwise these pieces of furniture remain silent.

Lesley said...

I would be thrilled to find a note attached to any piece of old furniture I acquired....lets start a trend!!

On a different subject, we clearly have similar theatre going tastes as we saw The King and I not long after you went and now Beauty and the Beast! B&B was by far the best...

Lesley xx

Jane said...

My father was once asked to remove a large wardrobe/linen press type cupboard from an old house in Essex. It was plugged to the wall but he and my brother succesfully took it apart and took it down the stairs bit by bit until they were left with the bottom section which held a v large drawer. They removed the drawer with much difficulty then set about moving the last piece of frame which was extremely heavy. When they got it to the top of the stairs the base fell off revealing a large empty space. Halfway down the stairs, the frame cracked in half and they saw it had been sawn and put back together. A large amount of coin of all denominations rolled out and down the stairs folled by several packets, letters and papers all of which dated back to George the third. Some of the coins were much earlier and the latest were Victorian. Quite a treasure trove. The elderly lady who owned it had lived in the house her entire life and it had been in the family for several generations before that. I don't think anything we own will last for that long.

Mac n' Janet said...

Sad to see such a beautiful piece of furniture leave your family, but older pieces tend to be so big! We've collected antiques through the years and we figure our daughter who has no interest in antiques will simply call Goodwill and have it all hauled off.
My husband, the painter, is still muttering about the painting you're not keeping, he thinks it's a beautiful painting, and as the lady who buys frames all the time I'll tell you that the frame would be quite costly to replace.
I like the idea of a furniture diary to pass on with the piece.