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Historic Berkey & Gay
High Renaissance Revival Collection, Ca. 1900

Berkey & Gay Table Dining ChairsMPF Conservation had the fortune to conserve several objects for a historic private home in Portland, Oregon. The furniture was manufactured by Berkey & Gay in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the style of the Aesthetics movements and High Renaissance Revival at the turn of the century.

BERKEY & GAY BUFFET MPF CONSERVATIONIt was either manufactured expressly for this home or bought and stored for the home when completed. It is a matched set. When the original owners sold the house, they sold the Berkey & Gay furniture with the home. This is fortuitous, in that the entire collection is seen as it was meant to be seen.

Note: The dark wooden furniture photographed inconsistently. The finish did not darken considerably, but clarified and brightened as decades of soot and dirt were removed. Some of the images create the appearance that the wood darkened.

 

Berkey & Gay Credenza

BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900The Berkey & Gay credenza had at one time been used as a buffet to set items from the kitchen; evidence of hot plates and layers of very old embedded grease was present on the serving surface. There was one structural issue, which was the serving surface boards had begun to split from each other and lift; this needed to be repaired before the boards permanently warped in the lifted position. The intention was to retain the original finish, which we did. The credenza was repaired, thoroughly cleaned, and the stains were removed to the best of our ability, though some of the burns were quite deep. These we mitigated. A light layer of shellac was added to the areas of the credenza which had lost finish over the years. We waxed the entire credenza with our wax to finish, and the piece is good to go for many years.
RESUME OF THE CREDENZA.

BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900
Before, left, and After Treatment, right.
BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900
BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900
BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900BERKEY & GAY CREDENZA 1900

 

Berkey & Gay Buffet MPF Conservation

Berkey & Gay Buffet MPF Conservation

Berkey & Gay Buffet MPF ConservationBerkey & Gay Buffet MPF ConservationBerkey & Gay buffet was used frequently to serve food, and was the second most damaged piece in the collection. Evidence of hot plates and layers of very old embedded grease, along with burns and finish losses covered the serving area. The surface boards had begun to split from each other and lift; in the center one of the splits was warped in a lifted position. The right-facing rear foot was split in two. The intention was to retain the original finish, which we did. The surface split was repaired and stabilized, thoroughly cleaned, and the stains were removed to the best of our ability, though some of the burns were quite deep. These we mitigated. A light layer of shellac was added to the areas of the credenza which had lost finish over the years. We waxed the entire credenza with our wax to finish, and the piece will serve many more years. RESUME TO COME!
Berkey & Gay Buffet MPF ConservationBerkey & Gay Buffet MPF Conservation
Berkey & Gay Buffet MPF ConservationBerkey & Gay Buffet MPF ConservationBerkey & Gay Buffet MPF Conservation
Berkey & Gay Buffet MPF ConservationBerkey & Gay Buffet MPF Conservation
Berkey & Gay Buffet MPF ConservationBerkey & Gay Buffet MPF ConservationBerkey & Gay Buffet MPF Conservation

 

Berkey & Gay Table + Leaves + Dining Chairs

Berkey & Gay Table + LeavesBerkey & Gay table was the only piece which was previously refinished. A nitrous cellulose lacquer was placed on top of the original shellac, probably in the 1960's. Berkey & Gay Table Dining ChairsA candle had tipped over and burned a large hole in the cellulose, shown below, and the top coat was badly damaged. The intention was to remove the cellulose, retain the original finish under the top coat, and add true shellac to restore what was once a beautiful tabletop. The surface was thoroughly cleaned, the cellulose removed through gentle scraping with a plastic scraper, and the burn and food stains were removed to the best of our ability, though some of the burns were quite deep. These we mitigated. Several coats of 1lb shellac were added to the tabletop. We waxed the entire credenza with our wax to finish, and the piece will serve many more years.
RESUME TO COME!
Berkey & Gay Table Berkey & Gay Table
Berkey & Gay Table Berkey & Gay Table
Berkey & Gay Table Berkey & Gay Table
Above, the six step process to remove the cellulose and mitigate the stains.
Below, the table with carved leaves and chairs, installed in the dining room.
Berkey & Gay Table Dining ChairsBerkey & Gay Table Dining Chairs

Eight chairs graced the table: two chairs with arms, and six with no arms.
Each had small breaks or splintered areas, many had small fissures or splits
in the frames, and the finish needed a deep wax. The new woven
replacements were colored to match the existing. Samples below

Arm Chair #1: Replaced broken back; repaired finish.
Below, before, left, and after, right.
Berkey & Gay Dining ArmchairChairBerkey & Gay Dining Arm ChairBerkey & Gay Dining Arm ChairBerkey & Gay Dining Arm Chair

Chair #4: Replaced broken back; repaired chipped front carving, repaired finish.
Below, before, left, and after, right.
Berkey & Gay Dining ChairBerkey & Gay Dining Chair
Berkey & Gay Dining ChairBerkey & Gay Dining Chair
Berkey & Gay Dining ChairBerkey & Gay Dining Chair

 

Berkey & Gay Sideboard

Berkey & Gay Side BoardBerkey & Gay Side BoardThe sideboard was much darker than the other pieces; MPFC surmises that both the original finish was a bit darker, and the sideboard was never placed in the direct sunlight. Also, the sideboard may have been used as a decorative rather than utilitarian piece, with the lovely carved mirror and slender serving surface. Many decorative elements were missing or compromised, however, and in that regard a good deal of restoration work was done to recreate matching pieces. The original finish was in excellent condition, and so a simple deep protective wax was applied after the reparation work. RESUME COMING SOON! Before treatment, left, and after treatment, right. A sample of the many missing elements shown below.
Berkey & Gay Side BoardBerkey & Gay Side BoardBerkey & Gay Side BoardBerkey & Gay Side Board
Berkey & Gay Side BoardBerkey & Gay Side Board
Berkey & Gay Side BoardBerkey & Gay Side Board

 

Berkey & Gay China Cabinet

The project was brought to a halt before the China Cabinet was treated.
For the sake of those who like history, we include it here.

Berkey & Gay China Cabinet

 

Additional pages offer information on specific wooden objects;
to view, go back to wooden objects.

CONTACT

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503.970.2509 / 541.531.2383

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