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Fine George II Faded Mahogany Architects Table & Writing Desk, c1750


The adjectives used by British furniture connoisseurs

 in describing an original but faded finish usually include the words :



 “MOST attractive!”

 (each very emphatic - and drawn out a bit in delivery).

They would be speaking of a surface subjected to 200-300 years of varying degrees of sunlight,

resulting in color changes to the woods, (particularly the normally reddish mahogany)

to yet a second set of descriptions :

“nutty brown”

“golden brown”

“honey coloured”

“corn coloured”




Fading is an aspect of patination

(the aging process that combines handling, rubbing, dusting, waxing, knocking, staining,

 oxidation from the air, and exposure to sunlight),

It is seldom discussed in America. 


In fact a large percentage of 18th and early 19th century British furniture imported to America,

undergoes a “repolish” to “even out the color”.

Either before or after arrival, restorers too often see fit to add color to the surfaces,

matching the darkest areas – or stains –

making pieces appear “living room ready” – a term I hear frequently.

Perhaps behind this is the American affinity for seemingly “perfect” appearances –

or not knowing the desirability of estate condition 18th century furniture




In addition, the late 19th century saw the introduction of darker oil based finishes

through which seeing wood grain and its movement (as above) are next to impossible.

I have often said (in jest) :

“When Victoria went into mourning and wore only black – so did the furniture!”


As an overall result :

 In the Americas, we don’t get to see much of this ‘MAH-vellous faded colour’

that make the British collectors’ hearts palpitate –

nor do we even look for fading in a good “patina”.




(note the wide variation of color & scarring where the bail has hit the drawer for 260 years)


An extra bonus:

Fading cannot be reproduced by makers of fake or reproduction furniture;

and good age fading can be a guarantee against spurious examples.

We have seen stripping of surfaces, and even bleaching in such attempts.

But they fall far short in their efforts, as they do not retain the character and

mellowing that has been acquired with genuine age fading.


Whether you are a collector, a dealer, or just looking for a chest for the entrance hall,

please do consider all the following factors carefully in your searches :


1 – Age and correctness are not enough – only beginning points

2 – Pieces must have well balanced proportions and beauty of line

3 – Look for quality of timbers and of craftsmanship –

 as you would seek in selecting a car – or a fine garment

4 – Even if all else is present, much of a piece’s value remains in the “surface”,

which includes “fine colour” and “patina”. 

Without “surface” a piece can become lifeless;

with it, even a country piece can become more prized than a London- made example.



We are pleased to offer these two very fine mid-18th century pieces, both with original faded surfaces :









Fine Early George III Mahogany Serpentine Chest
England c1760, original surfaces and brasses


Fine George II Mahogany Architects Table & Writing Desk
England c1750, original surfaces and brass fitments


click the above images or titles
for more information and images.


901-761-1163 (gallery) / 901-827-4668 (cell)



Hours : Wed.-Sat. 11-6, or by appointment

Complimentary Gift Wrapping


mfcreech@bellsouth.net  or  mfordcreech@gmail.com



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 "That MAH-vellous! Faded Colour"; M. Ford Creech Antiques