What do we use cotton buds for?

What do we use cotton buds for? You might be surprised to learn that we use them to help conserve some our precious furniture here at Nostell Priory.

Cotton buds are useful as they are very soft and very small, making them perfect to get inside the nooks and crannies of furniture to clean away the dirt, dust and grime that is attractive to pests and which aid an object’s deterioration. They are also cheap to acquire, which is another bonus!

Cleaning with a cotton bud

Cleaning the gilt decoration on a cabinet in the Tapestry Room with a cotton bud

One of our conservation tasks was to clean the two large cabinets in the Tapestry Room.

The first is known as the ‘Flemish’ cabinet, and is a tortoiseshell and ebony cabinet on a stand. It has eleven drawers surrounding a central cupboard, and is framed by columns. It dates from 1670 – 1700.

Cabinet in the Tapestry Room

‘Flemish’ cabinet in the Tapestry Room

Examining a cabinet in the Tapestry Room

We shine a bright lamp at the cabinet to examine for pests, any mould, woodworm holes etc so that we can check its condition

Cleaning a cabinet in the Tapestry Room

White gloves are worn to protect the tortoiseshell, ebony, and gilt from the oils and grease on our fingers.

Once the ‘Flemish’cabinet was completely clean, we moved onto the second cabinet in the room. This is the ‘Golle’ cabinet.

Cabinet in the Tapestry Room

The Pierre Golle cabinet

The Golle cabinet is made out from ebony, marble and marquetry. It’s thought to be made by Pierre Gole in France. It has twenty-four various-sized drawers  (both visible and secret drawers!) which surround a central cupboard enclosing a mirror-lined and stepped interior. The cabinet is panelled with light brown marble imitating buildings in landscapes, the borders inlaid with brass and pewter scrolling foliage and plaques and painted to imitate marble. It is sat on giltwood paw feet. The cabinet dates from 1670-1700.

Pierre Goll’s cabinet was an heirloom of the d’Hervat family, and was brought to Nostell by the 5th Baronet’s Swiss wife Sabine in 1781 as part of her dowry.

Cabinet in the Tapestry Room

The front of the cabinet is magnificently decorated, and when you open the drawers you can see the bare wood. The craftsmanship behind the beautiful exterior can be appreciated.

Cabinet in the Tapestry Room

Elaborate brass escutcheon on one of the drawers on the Golle cabinet. It is decorative rather than practical, as the drawers would probably not have been used often and the wood surround would not need as much protection from rough key usage than door locks may need. Look out for a post on Nostell’s wide variety of escutcheons soon!

Cleaning a cabinet in the Tapestry Room

Work in progress

Eventually we finished cleaning the cabinets. We did the work in front of the public as part of our conservation in action programme, and they really enjoyed seeing the cabinets illuminated, as usually the Tapestry Room is kept slightly darker to preserve the tapestries which hang on the walls.

We hope you enjoy looking at the cabinets when you visit Nostell!

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2 thoughts on “What do we use cotton buds for?

  1. I have a chest of drawers from nostel priory .given as a wedding present to a relative who was aservant there . how would I get them valued.

    • Hello Ann,

      The best thing that I could suggest is that you take your chest of drawers to a reputable auction house to have it valued. Often they have free valuation days where you can bring items along.

      Hope that helps,
      Regards,
      Nostell’s House Team

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