Friday, May 11, 2018

Being Held Hostage

Please be advised one of my websites is being held captive by my old hosting company JustHost. JustHost would like me to pay several thousand dollars to have my site "cleaned and released" I will not pay this. Please use
this is now the site for my clock repair and restorations information. Thank you.
Kindly share to ensure the greatest dissemination possible.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Go out With a Purpose, a Plan, and Knowledge

               Dishonesty in business practices has been around since the time people started conducting business, this is nothing new.  One only has to go to the Bible to see how upset Jesus was in the temple (Matt 21:12) to understand how irritating it is to come across less than honest business people.   This kept in mind is the inspiration for the creation of this blog and for my completing my accreditation on Antiques Appraisals.  I am constantly amazed and disgusted at the misinformation and absolute lies that are told people when looking at or for a particular antique. 
               When looking at a piece for possible purchase, examine the joints, wood grain, overall construction and stability of the piece.   Ask yourself these few questions:
Does the piece seem authentic?
Does the piece pass the smell test?
Does the piece speak to you?
Does the piece fit your original goals?
Does the piece seem too good to be true?
Is the asking price in your budget?

When determining the authenticity of a piece, you must be knowledgeable of the construction methods of the time the piece is from.  Are the fasteners correct, is the hardware correct, is the form correct.  Determine your answer and move on from there.
When asking yourself if it passes the smell test realize this is not the actual odor of the piece, but rather this refers to the old saying “Something smells fishy, or something is rotten in Denmark” In other words does the piece look true to the story the seller is telling or is it just questionable.  Determine your answer and move on from there.
When asking if the piece speaks to you, in essence you are asking yourself is this what I want for where I need it.  Determine your answer and move on from there.
When asking yourself if this fits your original ideas, make sure you have set parameters before venturing out for a specific piece so that you don’t just “settle”.  You may want a certain time frame, a certain style, certain wood/color, etc…  These need to be determined prior to your antiquing adventure.
When determining if a piece seems too good to be true, ask yourself  “Am I falling in love with this piece just from the story or first appearance?  Or have I done my due diligence and am making an informed purchase.  We all make purchasing mistakes, but the goal is to minimize this as much as possible.
Finally, when determining if this fits my budget, know before setting out what you want to spend and how much you want to go over if you find “the piece of a lifetime”
This all seems like common sense, but it is easy to be caught up in the moment.  I have seen this so many time as estate sales as more than one person is looking at a piece;  at auctions I have seem so many emotional purchases that just turn into regret when the heat of the moment cools.
Know what you want, have knowledge about the piece so as not to be miss-lead, set a budget and shop with knowledge in hand.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sympathetic Restorations

I have two business passions, clocks and antiques;  This blog covers antiques.  I firmly believe in sympathetic restorations to antiques and feel this is the only true method of restoring these treasured pieces, within reason.

            What is a “Sympathetic Restoration?”  Simply put, this restoration technique involves peeling away the errors of the past, ensuring the true character of the piece shines through. 

            There have always been those that think they know the best way to repair an item, many methods are ill conceived and wrong.  There are those that opt for the “cheap route”, and of course those that have little  interest in “old things” thus the repair is for functionality and purely utilitarian in nature.  A Sympathetic Restoration ensures the piece is as it was intended when created, but that also keeps the piece looking like the antique that it is, highlighting its use, story, and age.  We have all seen items that been restored to look like new; honestly this is a poor method;  If you wanted a new look why would one seek out an antique?  It is my stance that a sympathetic restoration is the best restoration that should be carried out UNLESS the piece is so badly damaged or deteriorated one has no choice but to replace pieces and parts or repurpose the item into something other than its original intent just to preserve a piece of the past.

            When examining a piece to determine the best route for a restoration, one must look at what has been done to the piece (i.e. replacement wood, replacement hardware and findings, rework of the finish, rework to the original piece that compromises its integrity of original purpose.)  Once a restoration route is determined begin by cleaning the piece, GENTLY.  A dry rag to begin, damp rag to remove more stubborn dirt, finally a rag with furniture oil applied to bring out the character.  If these steps do not bring favorable results, a light going over with 0000 steel wool that has furniture oil applied can bring about a tremendous change of appearance.  Remember the goal of this first step is to simply remove the dirt and grime, not remove the finish. 

PLEASE NOTE:  When selecting a furniture oil to use, make sure the oil contains NO silicones.  Silicone can react with the finish and the wood turning the item very dark.  I use a product called “Milsek” (1) in my work and am very pleased with the results.

After this initial cleaning, look at the finish and any added details the finish may have (i.e. applied paint such as stencils or shading, over varnish to add the look of carving or depth to the piece, or spattering to resemble worm holes or other “damage” from time) If there are no additions to the finish meant to enhance the appearance and you are happy with results of your cleaning you are done. 

However if you find the finish to still be dull or missing in areas and it just needs some attention to give it a better and more saleable appearance, try these steps next.  A product that is in essence mineral oil and stain that does not alter the actual finish, only enhances what is there, is HOWARDs Restore-a-Finish (2);  a wonderful product that can bring life back to a lack luster piece and increase its appeal for sale.  Another product that enhances a piece is a colored wax.  A wax with coloring in it can “fill in” areas that are missing color while giving the entire piece a wonderful glow.  I have found the product BRIWAX (3) produced in the United Kingdom to be superior to any other type of wax for this purpose.  A warning, BRIWAX does contain Tulane and can soften some finishes so try a test patch in a hidden area before attacking the entire piece.

 Should the afore mentioned steps not provide desired results or the finish is damaged more than can be addressed with these measures, a mild refinishing solution can be crafted that will clean and remove years of accumulated dirt and grime as well as smoothing the finish.  This is a wonderful mix, however I use it as a last resort only, since it is the most invasive method for a Sympathetic Restoration.  To create your “refinish/cleaning” solution use the following recipe

1 Part paste wax

2 Parts Mineral Spirits

3 Parts BOILED linseed oil (use boiled or the finish will remain tacky for months)

If uncomfortable, do not add the paste wax, I find it adds a nice glow to the item as you are buffing it out and it creates a pleasing end product.
After the finish, the next step to a sympathetic restoration is the removal of incorrect fasteners, knobs, hardware and findings.

Examine the piece, if the nails or screws are not of the period AND are detracting from the appearance of the piece, carefully remove and replace them with period correct pieces.  You will find a side cutter, a small drill bit and a set of E-Z out bits will quickly become your favorite tools; should you be uncomfortable with this step or if correct replacements are not readily available do not attempt;  Find a cabinet shop or wood worker that is comfortable with this process, or just do not do it.  Remember less is sometimes more.  IF the fasteners have been in the piece for decades, more damage can be done to the piece trying to remove them thus decreasing the value and salability, than simply leaving be. 

The easiest part of a sympathetic restoration is the hardware replacement.  Determine what’s correct for the piece and find it.  Nothing looks worse than incorrect/poorly sized hardware on a piece. Remember hardware is the “jewelry for the piece” it can make it or break it.

 Sympathetic restoration is correcting of errors, keeping the story and beauty of the antique; remember sometimes leaving a few warts helps the story; Make it a piece pleasing to the eye, that tells it’s story, and is period appropriate.


1~Milsek Furniture polish



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Why Age, Condition, and Provenance for a title?

As I launch this new blog I pondered on the name for some time.  I finally settled on "Age, Condition, and Provenance".  Some readers will understand why I decided on this collection of words.  In short, these three words are best used to evaluate antiques.  As I was preparing my Appraisal site for launch, I wondered what I should convey to antique collectors and those that just have a curiosity for the old and unique.  So much misinformation and just plain wrong advice is available that I have decided to give a concerted effort towards educating clients and visitors of this blog and its related website and give them at least a walking knowledge of what they are looking  at so as to minimize the risk from being taken in a deal and duped out of their hard earned monies.  Many of the entries to this blog will deal with determining if a piece has been altered, is a "married" piece (formerly know as a bastard piece, but that term is no longer considered acceptable), is a reproduction, or is a true (to the best of their abilities to know) antique or vintage item.  This blog will discuss how to determine a period of time from which the item originated, how to spot a bogus story and how to arrive at a fair price for the item.  I do not claim to be the "know all - end all" person for knowledge, but I do know that having had an interest in antiques since 1969, I do know a thing or two about these wonderful pieces.  I have refinished antiques for years, completing my first piece when I was 9 and have refinished and restored nearly all of the furniture in our house and shops.  
     As a bit of background, I have been an Horologist (clock repair and restoration man) since 1981.  I built my first clock at the age of 8. (looking back it was not very attractive, but it did work!) I own and operate Pine Knoll Clock Shop and Pine Knoll Clock Works in Mercer, PA (you can follow these businesses on their own blogs and 
or visit their websites at and  
Of course all of my businesses have a facebook pages.
I have been amazed over the past 35 years at the amount of wrong information and just plain lying that takes place in the antiques world.   I have completed my course work becoming a Certified Antiques Appraiser as well as becoming proficient in strict observance of the Professional Appraiser Code of Conduct and a member of the Asheford Institute of Antiques.   
I want to help educate my readers and answer their questions on antiques as well as the restoration and conservation of them.  I look forward to this venture and invite you to follow the blog so you will be notified when a posting takes place.