Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
In the first half of the 20th century there were squads called Einsatzgruppen- HA! Just kidding. No depressing history or politics today. I promised a picture of the Louis Philippe table we bought in Castres and here it is.
We wanted a round table in the upstairs landing, but it turns out this one is too small, so when we find something bigger that we like, we’ll move it into one of the bedrooms. Louis Philippe d’Orléans reigned from 1830 to the revolution of 1848 when the monarchy was abolished for the second time in less than 100 years. The style is sober and the wood of choice cherry (which has a colour I find very friendly.)
I’ve begun cleaning up the Georgian chest we found in Castres. It was my best buy of the year (by a mile.) It’s very early Georgian, I’d say about 1720/1730. From the price tag of €50 I initially presumed it was a 1980’s reproduction- but then I got closer. When I was close enough to see the handles and escutcheons my heart started beating a little bit faster.
All hand finished, each one slightly different to the next. And then I opened a drawer to find rabbets with hand forged nails. That’s the joint that predates dovetailing (which only really became widely used in the latter part of the 18th century.) The patina is exceptional, the deepest possible shade of brown.
We confirmed the price and the owner seemed terribly pleased we were taking it off his hands. I was able to maintain my composure until we got it into the car and as soon as we’d driven away I burst into wild laughter. Even in this market (so-called Brown Furniture is nowhere near as popular as it was for most of the 20th century) good early examples still demand substantial sums.
Condition, of course, is key. Whether it has its original brasses, whether pieces of wood have been replaced or filled etc. etc. But even a piece that’s been well used will still fetch a decent price.
In other nº 42 news, the guest bedrooms are starting to get curtains thanks to the discovery that Ikea sells 100% linen fabric at €8 per metre (width of 150 cm). It’s sold worldwide under the name Aina. It’s fine linen, so it needs to be lined, but once it is, it drapes beautifully. I really went to town with the embroidered silk Pierre Frey curtains in the grey salon and also with the Italian linen in the green room- so I can claw some of that back now with this discovery. The only thing I’d say is don’t skimp. Go pole length x 2.5 and let it drag on the floor a bit.