Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How To Use The Bag Press

What is a Bag Press, What Does It Do and How Does It Work? Below is a short video explaining the Bag Press: The Bag Press is a tool used by Cabinet Makers to aid in the construction of pieces with contoured or rounded surfaces, or attaching decorative veneers to contoured pieces.

The piece sits on a Former, which is in effect a timber construction created as a template of the required contour or shape.

In this case marquetry is being affixed to the concave side of a cupboard door. The drawer front lies on the Former and is placed inside the Bag Press, under the rubber matting cover.

The cover is battened down and clamped to create an air tight seal.

Once the Cabinet Maker is sure the Press is airtight the vacuum is turned on and all air is extricated.

The force of the vacuum pulls the rubber cover tightly around the drawer front and the shaped template Former; a pressure equivalent to approximately 8 tons per square inch is achieved.

Whilst this pressure is constant, the length of time the object sits in the Bag Press for is variable dependent upon the type of construction being formed. In the case of Marquetry the Cabinet Makers will leave the piece in for about half an hour; or when actually forming the door from construction veneers would necessitate a Bag Press of about four hours.

Bag Presses are useful in ensuring that a constant, and all encompassing, force is exerted equally over all areas of the piece. Additionally no Tool Marks or scarring will be present on the piece.
Here the Cabinet Maker is removing the Marquetry Tape to reveal the inlaid work. This will be tidied up before being Traditionally French Polished.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Argyll Container

The Argyll Container (Teapot / Coffee Pot / Gravy Boat) was named after the Duke Of Argyll in the 18th Century. The Argyll Teapot kept its contents warm by surrounding the inner container with a metal jacket containing hot water.

Annotated Description Of An Argyll Teapot



1 - Primary spout for contents to be poured out of Argyll.

2 - Ivory inserts to prevent transmission of heat through the handle.

3 - Secondary spout for hot water to be poured into outer jacket of the vessel.

4 - The copper undercoat onto which the silver is fused during manufacture is showing through, thus quite clearly confirming the item is not sterling silver. This is known as ‘bleeding’.

Maker's Marks


A - Crown depicting Sheffield.


B - The letters ‘PP&S’ represent the manufacturer’s initials and are for the company of Padley, Parkin & Staniforth of Sheffield. These marks were used during period c. 1855 - 1880

C - Hand emblem which is the registered trade mark of the manufacturer and was registered around the same time as the initials of the manufacturer.

For further information on how to Identify Maker's Marks and Silver Hallmarks see this feature

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Staddle Stones Unearthed At Wheathills


Above is a Staddle stone dug up in the grounds of Wheathills when the property was being restored a few years ago and their discovery emphasises the property's name and original use.
One and a half staddles were found, the others and their capstones being lost in the mists of time, and they took some digging up!


Staddle stones were used to raise store houses, barns etc off the ground and keeping the contents dry and vermin-free. They were used as feet and would have had circular stone caps on the top of them supporting the structure above. The rounded shape of the capstone prevented rats and other vermin from crawling up the side of the Staddle and gnawing through the floor of the (no doubt) wooden floor to the barn to get at the stored crops.

Closer inspection of the stone shows the decorative pattern left by the stone mason centuries ago when the Staddle stone was created from local Derbyshire sandstone.

Below is an image of how the Staddle Stones would look in situ.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

David Dickinson at Wheathills

DEALING WITH DICKINSON - a BBC TV programme hosted by David Dickinson and filmed partly at Wheathills, explored the journey of six people all eager to discover the realities of being an Antiques Dealer.
The programme's producers were attracted by the Antique Study Lectures offered by Wheathills, as they provided the ideal platform to educate the 6 volunteers on the correct identification and dating of antique furniture, as well as helping them to avoid fakes and marriages when it came to buying antiques themselves.
The six initially knew nothing about antiques, but during the course of the programme learnt to identify good items of furniture, buy at auctions, oversee the restoration of items purchased before finally exhibiting them at a large trade fair in Birmingham.
During the first day's filming the six took part in Antique Identification which was delivered by Nigel Heldreich and filmed in the Cabinet Makers' workshops (preferred by the camera crew as it provided a more interesting backdrop). The participants thoroughly enjoyed the study day and all felt fully prepared for the second day when they would be set challenges designed to test their recently acquired knowledge.
On Day Two the programme host David Dickinson arrived and joined Nigel in preparing a series of challenges. The first task was to select the only good piece of furniture from a group of fakes, marriages and other items specifically chosen to catch out the unwary.
Next came the 'Dating Game' where a collection of chairs from the 17th - 20th centuries had to be arranged in the correct chronological order, with each contestant investigating the method of construction rather than the piece's style; it was essential that the differences between wooden blocks, brackets, wooden rub blocks and pegs were clearly recognized, as some chairs were designed in styles more common in previous eras. The contestant's recently acquired knowledge was put to the test.
Additionally Wheathills undertook careful and sympathetic restoration and conservation on some of the items bought during the show. Projects included replacing a beautiful Corner Cupboard's back panels with period timber, dismantling and re-gluing a set of fine Regency dining chairs, as well as cleaning, conserving and making minor repars to a Victorian Folio Stand and Chaise Longe, a Regency Rosewood Gaming Table and an Edwardian Tray. An Antique Restoration Case Study of the dining chairs can be seen here.
"Thank you for your excellent work carried out on the Antiques selected for my forthcoming BBC television programme. The restoration was sympathetic and I was pleased with the results." David Dickinson.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wheathills on BBC - Flog It

Paul Martin from the popular BBC TV Show 'FLOG IT' visited Wheathills to film a profile on Nigel Heldreich and the work he has undertaken in restoring the Georgian Country House. Paul Martin described to the viewers the interesting History of Wheathills, and the various changes the building had seen over the years.
The conversation turned on camera to the condition of the building when Nigel first committed to restoring Wheathills to its Regency splendour
Paul described the evolution of the building, identifying the different types of construction and methods used through differing periods when extensions and alterations were made.
The Camera Team moved closer to Harold, who at the time was busily conserving a Rosewood Games Table.
Up in the Attic where the Georgian Servants' Quarters once were, Paul discussed the difficulties in restoring an oak and tiled roof sympathetically.
During a moment of relaxation in The Library, Paul admired a 19th Century metamorphic Mahogany Library Chair / Steps


The programe scrutinised what is involved in the careful and sympathetic restoration of a period house, and focused on the wide number of projects that make up a whole restoration programme. This contrasts with Flog It's normal approach - to study the restoration of a single item such as a piece of furniture or china.