It is many, many years since I stood up at my wedding reception and first uttered those now so familiar words “my wife and I”. In fact it is so long that our children are now worried about how old they are and we have gathered around us a number of grandchildren.

The reason I mention this is obviously to say how wonderful married life is, but also to say some pieces of furniture are also married and it is something to watch out for. A “marriage” is the term used to describe two or even three part case furniture that has been “made up” from different pieces, often of a similar date.

Most frequently seen on bureau cabinets and bureau bookcases, but also on larger bookcases, marriages are usually betrayed by differences in colour, grain and quality of the timber, particularly on the sides. As a rule the backboards on genuine pieces should closely resemble one another, both in timber used and in construction techniques.

Married pieces are often out of proportion, showing a visual imbalance between joined parts. In addition, they can often be identified by an examination of the junction of the top and base sections, which may not fit tightly.

On veneered furniture, a marriage may be apparent when the top section is removed. The veneer should not extend far beyond the point where the base meets the top. Finally, a genuine piece will display a stylistic union and decorative embellishments should be identical in both design and execution.

In this instance furniture mirrors life and there are good and bad marriages, but a good marriage doesn’t shout at you, it just is a good marriage.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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