Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vintage Child's Dresser With A Secret Past

I bought this somewhat homely little piece from Cindy in Lincoln. 

What I didn't like about it:  The drawers were ill-fitting, like someone who didn't know what they were doing made it. Someone had stripped the original paint off at some point, to reveal a hodgepodge of types of wood underneath. There was writing in FINGERNAIL POLISH on the top.  Someone had clearly not respected the history of this piece. 

What I did like about it:  The decorative sides -- I knew with the right color of paint the detailing would really stand out.  The small size (21" tall, 10" deep), obviously meant as a toy or doll's dresser. 

The melon colored paint on the interior of the drawers
was obviously added after "the stripping incident".

What I didn't know then, that I know now:  The bottom of the last drawer was made from cigar boxes (loved the labels still exposed.)  On the back of the each drawer is information on the maker -- W.A. Darnell, Mattoon, IL 3-8-27 (looks like a child's handwriting).

What I will never know:  How old was W.A.?  Who did he make it for?  What was the occasion?  What did it look like originally?

The bottom of this drawer was the only clue to the original color,
and is why I decided to paint the piece green.

What I am imagining about it:  William was about 10 years old and lived in rural Illinois.  His daddy was a no-nonsense handyman.  William told his father that he would like to make something for his little sister Uticia's upcoming birthday.  His daddy told him that he could use some of the wood scraps in the barn.  His father had already taught him some basics about how to cut wood and how to hammer a nail so it was just a matter of deciding how big to make the doll dresser.  He drew the plan out on a piece of paper.  His father looked it over and made a couple corrections to the measurements.  William was proud that his father trusted him to make the gift himself.  He worked hard and did his best.  He ran out of scrap wood for the bottom drawer, so his father suggested using old cigar boxes -- they wouldn't show anyway.  He carefully wrote his name on the back of each drawer, he wanted his sister Uticia to always remember that he had made it for her.  His father helped him put some pretty wooden details on the front.  Then it was time to paint the little dresser, he chose green which was his sister's favorite color.

Then he started to imagine:  Maybe one day Uticia would have a daughter that she would give the little dresser to...

1 comment:

  1. I love your green piece, and the cigar box drawer, and your imagining. :) I think there should be a rule that history should be written in permanent marker on the bottom of each drawer of a dresser. :)

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