February 16, 2016
I often receive phone calls from dealers who know my reputation for seeking fine and unique pieces for my clients. So, when I received a call from a friend telling me I should see this antique light fixture found in a box in storage, I did not hesitate.
What I found was a 17th century Austrian chandelier with a frame of wood, its original water gilded finish and most of its original crystal draping in baggies. One of the hand carved feather plumes at the top of the fixture had been lost and the wiring was so old I suspect it was the original wiring installed when the chandelier was converted from candle to electric. It was in ruff shape but still a definite diamond in the ruff for sure and I just happened to have the perfect client who could appreciate its uniqueness.
A restoration of this type is not easy or quick but my client understood the process from the multiple houses we have completed together. The work called for 3 different restorers to do their part. First was a museum restorer to handle stabilizing the dry wooden frame and to recreate one of the carved wooden plumes.
Second, came the wiring expert. It was important to make the wiring safe but it also had to look authentically vintage. That work had to be precise because it needed to follow the original wiring route through what were candle cups. I also made the decision to make the candle stems extra tall tapers, more closely mimicking the way the original candles used to light the chandelier would have looked.
Third, a few of the original crystals were either missing or broken and their connectors were crumbling. All of the individual pieces of crystal had to be rewired and vintage or antique replacement pieces had to be located. Only real crystal would do, glass just doesn’t have the same sparkle and they had to match the existing pieces.
Finally an authentic chain and canopy had to be located so we could hang this masterpiece in the dining room of my client’s home. 5 months and 3 separate restoration experts later and we now have a chandelier that is gorgeous, unique and ready to adorn my clients winter residence.