EXPO CHICAGO/2014 Highlight: A 19th Century Gateleg Table

This gateleg (folding) table is likely British or American due to the use of walnut and box wood inlay. Stylistically, it is a 19th copy of an original produced in the late 18th century. It references a simple, utilitarian style, but the flair in the marquetry nods to a later William and Mary motif. The table came to The Conservation Center with loose veneer, and missing areas in the turned legs. In addition, the previous treatment relied on heavily pigmented polish to disguise the poor quality repairs—which masked the decorative effect of the inlay and the burr walnut veneer.

Our furniture conservator Michael Young began the conservation process by surface cleaning the piece. He then focused on the problem areas: removing the heavily pigmented, polished surface; and seated the loose and lifting veneer using conservation adhesives. Michael re-created the style of the bell turnings in the legs and filled the missing areas. Next came the stabilization of the structural complications within the table. This included replacing dowel pins and reattaching the gate legs. Rare box wood was ordered so that the missing inlay could be re-cut by hand, colored to emulate the existing design, and laid within the tabletop. Once this was complete, the entire surface was hand polished with a hard finish shellac.

The conservation treatments allowed this precious table to display its intricate design and to last for generations to come.