Restoration of a Louis XVI secretary


The piece of furniture presented here is a cylinder secretary from the workshop of Philipp Ferdinand Ludwig Bartscher (1749-1823) in Rietberg. The secretary was created in the German classicism style around 1795.
Far beyond the borders of Westphalia, Bartscher furniture enjoys a first-class reputation both in terms of its workmanship and quality as well as its proportions and design.

A piece of furniture absolutely worth preserving

At first glance, the condition of the furniture was rather battered, but the substance was good and the furniture was absolutely worth preserving. When do you ever get to see a piece of Bartscher furniture in such pristine condition?

The first inspection revealed some obvious things. The cylinder door was stuck and could hardly be moved. A large number of veneers had loosened, small areas had broken off. Some burr and corner joints in the head of the piece of furniture had gone out of glue due to force, presumably when trying to close the flap. The entire surface was painted with a reddish coloured wax, which gave the wood an unnatural colouring and was also very worn and unsightly.

On closer inspection, however, the positive things also stood out. The marquetry was completely preserved. Locks and fittings were present. Neither the drawer fronts, nor the sides of the furniture, nor the writing surface were warped. There was no woodworm infestation.


Restoration of a cylinder escritoire

In the first step, the piece of furniture was dismantled into all its individual parts. First the back panel was removed and then the cylinder lock and the interior were dismantled. All fittings were dismantled.

Now the woodwork could begin. Re-gluing the head in the disassembled state proved to be difficult. As a consequence, the corpus from above the height of the writing surface had to be disassembled with all its dovetailed corner joints. The corner joints were carefully warmed up. The heated glue joints could then be loosened with a hammer and a supplement.
After all the old glue residues had been removed, the individual parts could be glued together again.

Some of the loose veneers were completely loosened and re-glued, others could be injected with glue and strengthened. Smaller veneers that were no longer present were replaced.

Cleaning the wood

When the wood was washed with methylated spirit, the dark areas in the marquetry, which were initially thought to be fire shading, turned out to be ink paintings. At the same time, engravings in the light maple wood, which had previously been barely visible to the naked eye, became visible again. Research in specialist literature (Stefan Baumeier - Feine Möbel aus Westfalen) revealed that the technique of engraving was common in the Bartscher workshop. It is therefore quite possible that the engravings are original and approx. 230 years old. This in turn suggests that the piece of furniture has never been sanded.

After the wood was cleaned, the shading was renewed and the engravings in the light wood were rubbed out with dark wax. In the cleaned state, the fine maple thread inlays, which had previously been lost in the "uniformity" of the colours due to the reddish wax, became visible again. Wood grains of unbelievable beauty came to light, especially on the round secretary's lock. The wood that serves as the background for the bouquet of flowers inside the circle was hardly identifiable as ash before the restoration.
The cleaned fittings complete the harmonious overall picture of this fantastic piece of furniture.


We would also be happy to take care of the restoration of your antique piece of furniture. Just give us a call or send us an email!

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Restoration antique secretary

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Intarsia restoration

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Refurbish antique furniture

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Furniture restorer

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Furniture restoration before after

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Secretary Bartscher Westphalia

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Furniture restoration before after

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Intarsia restoration

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Refurbish antique furniture

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Furniture restorer

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