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Subject:Huanghuali coffer table - Age?
Posted By: Tim G Sat, Oct 21, 2017 IP:


I bought this large huanghuali coffer table. I'm interested in thoughts on the age of the piece.

I was told the piece was purchased as an antique in Hong Kong in the 1970's, but I realize how unreliable that kind of information can be.

The table shows age, some sun fading of the top, water marks, etc., so it certainly has age.

A similar coffer was offered by Sotheby's -

There's is listed as Qing, but that seems a rather broad span of time.

The Sotheby's example has simple ruyi form spandrels, while mine has a more ornate pierced peony flower design that I believe is more typical of late Ming/early Qing.

I would appreciate any feedback. Unfortunately, I can not take more photos as I won't be up to pick up the table from storage for a month or two.


Subject:Re: Huanghuali coffer table - Age?
Posted By: mikeoz Sun, Oct 22, 2017

Has this piece been resurfaced? Sanded back and polished. It doesn't seem to have any antique patina at all.

Subject:Re: Huanghuali coffer table - Age?
Posted By: TimG Tue, Oct 24, 2017

I didn't have much time to inspect it after buying it...stuck it in storage then jumped on a plane home.

Top looks sun bleached. You can see the lighter color of the wood on the top and drawers as compared to the lower doors. I'm hoping that a bit of teak oil will help the original color come to the surface.

If it was resurfaced/sanded, it was done prior to 1970. The Christie's listing I referenced in the original post, according to the condition report, was made from old wood that was re-purposed. So, I suppose it is completely possible that the wood was sanded/planed, then reconstructed into a coffer table.

The hardware doesn't look all that old to me, either. But, perhaps new hardware was added to an old piece.

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Subject:Re: Huanghuali coffer table - Age?
Posted By: KIRK Fri, Dec 29, 2017

Yes of course it's huanghuali!!

Please, whatever you do, don't oil it.
Oil clogs the pores of the wood and is in fact the worst thing you could possibly do to huanghuali. Give it to someone who knows what they're doing; eg:

I would say it's highly unlikely that it's entirely constructed from old timbers.
Its' too big / what would you make it from?
If there are numerous plugged mortices all over it this is an indication that it could have been re-constructed, but I don't see any in these shots.

It's most likely 18thC but could be earlier... of later. Handles etc are often replaced. Not possible to tell from these shots but a good restorer will be able to tell you exactly how old it is and give you a clearer understanding of it's history and true worth.

By the way
The sun bleeching is a good thing. Very good!

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