Caring for Meg's Family Chest: Tips and Links
Learn how to take care of this beautiful chest;
Thanks to Meg I was able to offer her some advice on how to take care of her beautiful family chest. You can see a link to the 1897 Sear’s catalog of her chest selling for $3.98.
A Large full sized iron bottom, crystal covered trunk; flat top with rounded corners and hardwood reverse slats over entire top, upright on front, end slats and bar bolts, malleable iron bumpers and skeleton work covered tray with bonnet box. Monitor lock. Handsomely made and finished. A real bargain.
The 32 inch was $3.98
If you would like to know the advice I gave Meg on how to care for her family heirloom, read the 5 tips and links for more information below:
1. Keep it someplace dark: as with most heirlooms: Light = bad
Light can turn wood dark and bleach dark woods. It will also brittle finishes, so keep it some place away from sunlight.
2. Humidity= keep steady and medium humidity level. This means don’t keep it in places that get too hot or too cold. Not in the basement or the attic, near a fireplace or heat grate. Try to keep it in a space that is more in the interior of the house, because a closet on an outside wall will have more temperature fluctuations which can cause the humidity to fluctuate. That means that the wood will adsorb more water and then contract and shrink. This can cause problems at wood joints, and especially since it made of different materials, the small expands and contracts in the wood will not occur in the metal or leather, or any other material in the same way and can cause splits, or cracks eventually.
3. Tip: pick up the furniture at the strongest point. If there are handles that might not be the strongest point anymore, and with the wear and tear of handles get over the years, that is something to think about in the future.
4. Cleaning: Wood doesn’t need any oil, waxes or sprays. According to the website Canadian Conservation Institute ( http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1454437803808) “The best way to care for furniture is simply to maintain a stable environment. No amount of oil or other material will keep wood from drying out if the humidity level is too low."
5. Dusting and polishing: The Canadian Conservation Institute also said about dusting that “One of the best ways to clean wood is to dust regularly with a slightly dampened cloth. However, a lot of furniture made before World War I is sensitive to water and should be dusted only with a dry cloth. After dusting, buff the wood with a dry, soft cloth. Unfinished wood should not be wet-cleaned. [for the tin part of the chest] Museums and historic houses no longer polish metal hardware but simply buff it with a clean, dry cotton cloth. This produces a soft gleam and minimizes wear and tear on the hardware.” It looks like if you would like to wax the wood every occasionally, that would be much preferred over using oil.
The trunk in the picture, it looks in pretty good shape, so I would say minimal cleaning would be just fine. If you come across a piece of furniture that needs more work below is a “Conserve o gram” that has more specifics. But on a chest like the one you have, you would only have to use minimal cleaning on it.
Here are some more links if you want to look more into it:
A video of a lecture about taking care of furniture.