Antique brass furniture hardware parts from the 1780 to 1800 period (hence the c1790 mid-date). The parts listed here and shown in Photos 1, 6 and 7 were popular among furniture makers in both England and America for drawers. There are eight brass pieces that include three back plates (two different stamped styles), three decorative swinging bail handles and two truncated mounting posts used to hold the handle and fix it and the back plate to furniture (see all Photos). The two mounting posts are no longer functional since they have been cut or snapped. They are included to illustrate styles and represent two different types. All parts listed here are sold as used and ‘as found’ with some items in better condition than others. The Photos also help show some of the dents and other by-products of prior use on the items (see All Photos). The labels of A, B and C will remain on the sets to help distinguish them as a courtesy for the next owner. Major condition issues are noted in the Condition section farther below.
All eight brass hardware parts are sold as a single Lot. They may be helpful to some furniture collectors or antique brass specialists because they demonstrate a few key attributes for recognizing authentic hardware parts dating from the mid 1700s and early 1800s. Important attributes are discussed below. Each part exhibits small details, imperfections and production marks that can be used to better understand and seriate furniture hardware from comparable time periods.
The brass back plates listed here were made for attaching bail handles to drawers and were designed to keep the bail handle from hitting and marking the wood. The back plates are stamped from thin sheets of polished brass using metal dies and gravity drop presses. They belong to a larger group that include stamped examples in the Hepplewhite and Sheraton styles. Prior to the invention of stamping metal parts from thin sheets using dies, brass furniture back plates were cast.
There is no verifiable information about American factory produced stamped back plates in the oval style of the three shown here (e.g., see Donald Fennimore’s book titled ‘Metalwork in Early America: Copper and its Alloys from the Winterthur Collections’ published by the Winterthur Museum in 1996: see pages 426 to 443; also see Henry Kauffman’s ‘American Copper & Brass’, published in 1968 by Bonanza Books, New York, pages 209 to 214). And so by default, the three back plates offered here were produced in England, possibly at Birmingham or London. The reason offered is that the machinery and equipment needed to produce them was too expensive an investment at this early date for an American entrepreneur, especially since the same brass hardware pieces could be purchased comparatively inexpensively from England.
The three brass bail handles listed here are more interesting in that they may, indeed, be American made. This tentative suggestion is based on small production and finishing details. All three were solid cast in shallow open face metal molds and not fully enclosed sand-clay composition moulds or enclosed two piece metal molds (ibid. see Henry Kauffman). The most important attribute is that all three exhibit thick rough-filed vertical edges that are about 1/16 inches tall. Also, the edges are left rough and not finely finished or polished. And the beaded front side of the handles show minor incomplete casting holes and imperfection when examined up close under magnification.
The two handle mounting posts, also called pommels, were cast and finished on a turning lathe, drilled to create the socket for the handle’s small pivot point, and then lightly polished. Threads were hand cut into the post’s shank and the upper end of the shank just below the head was filed to make it square. A square shank was likely needed to help hold the post while it was being finished and threaded.
The two brass mounting posts show two different styles that also seem to represent a change over time, although in this case the two posts are presumed to be roughly contemporaneous. One post has a small flaring skirt at the top of its squared shank that would abut right against the surface of the back plate. The skirt was created by the way its profile was cut on the lathe. The other post has no skirt and its shank was not squared off by filing. Instead, the shank shows all the imperfections left behind by casting the post in a mold. A review of other handle mounting posts tentatively seems to suggest that skirtless posts begin to replace skirted posts in the first few decades after 1800. More comparative research still needs to be performed.
In summary, the two styles of stamped brass back plates shown here date from the same general period and are accented by bands of beading (see Photos 2 and 4). Two of the back plates show a large 2 story Georgian style stone house with a basement set partly underground and a large front stairway composed of six semi-circular steps leading to the first floor. Numerous large windows make up the facade while the basement displays half windows with the remaining parts likely set in window wells to allow more light into the basement rooms. The third pressed back plate has a geometric pattern forming an oval design in the very center and three outer ovals bands of fine beading (Photo 4). All are in used condition and are sold as a single Lot.
So if you are looking for some nice antique examples of furniture brasses from the late 1700s, then make sure you seriously consider this group while it is still available. And as always, this Lot also comes with my Docs Antiques 100% satisfaction guarantee or you may return it using my return policy (see complete Return Policy details farther below, all items sold as a single Lot and therefore all must be returned together if sent back). The purchaser also has the option to ask for a customized lay-away plan for purchasing this item (and others when combining orders) by simply requesting the terms you wish to use and then let Doc take care of setting it up and combining any items together as desired (payment installments may be modified at any time should the unexpected ever arise, just let me know by email and I’ll change the due dates).
SIZE & CONDITION: These brass drawer parts have not been professionally cleaned and so both grime and patina are present after accumulating over several centuries. The two House motif oval back plates measure about 2 1/2 inches long by about 1 7/8 inches wide whereas the wreath-style back plate measures about 2 3/8 inches long by about 1 7/8 inches wide (Photo 1). The handles fit their respective back plate with the wreath-style back plate’s handle bent slightly apparently for a better fit (bend is as originally found, see Photos 1 and 4). The back plates are in fair to good condition with Back Plate A bent slightly at one handle post hole and showing two small tack holes also present (Photo 4). House-motif Back Plate B has a couple of interior dents (Photo 5). House-motif Back Plate C is in the best condition of all three (Photo 3). The round holes where the mounting post shanks were seated on each back plate in order to run through the draw face and be secured by nuts on the inside of the draw display some distortion from use and/or removal. In most cases, these flaws would be covered by the larger pommel head. The two pommels included in this Lot are too short to be useful without applying some creativity. As always, if the buyer is not completely satisfied, then she/he may return this entire Lot for a refund (All sold as a single Lot and all must be returned together, see our complete return policy for all details as stated below).
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