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There has been a renewed interest in Boulle marquetry Napoleon III furniture in the last years.
Most of the time, unfortunately, the cost of restoration is to high for a lot of customers or even compared to the value of the piece. It is sad as those pieces need to be well maintained.
Here is a little story on restoring a 1860-1880 decanter with almost all the original Baccarat crystals.
It arrived with the usual loose and missing brass, but also it had been meanly sanded, without loosing the engraving though, and sprayed with lacquer.

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First thing to do is to lift the loose brass and assess the damage.

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Epoxy is not the way to reglue Boulle. It is usally used without cleaning under and therefore the brass is bulging and is extremely difficult to remove when you want to do a proper restoration

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Neither is contact cement. In fact you can not imagine how many pieces we have to restore that have been “repaired” with contact cement. It is not long term efficient on any kind of veneering

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After cleaning the substrate and the inside of the brass of any glue and oxydation

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The pieces is remoisturized and the pieces that are not to damaged are rehydradrated new glue is inserted and pieces are reglued in a vacuum bag

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Other way to reglue what can’t or is not easy to reglue in the vacuum bag is sand bags

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or hard foam can be used also

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The top was really in a very bad shape, especially as those pieces are made with wood that are deeped in acids and other chemicals to achieve the ebonizing

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New brass pieces are engraved





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Then the reopened kerfs and the engraving line are filled using the traditional pore filling methode but with soot black and charcoal to get a real nice black

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You can see I was doing the black at the same time than a clock for which you can see the story there.


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After a bit of polish the hinges and all the harware is put back on et voilà!! Much better!!!

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