Case Study: 19th Century Chess Board Restoration

We are privileged to receive many unusual and rare objects into the studio every month. When Mr Brown contacted us, he enquired into restoring an item that we had never seen before in the studio; a unique 19th Century chess board he had been given as a gift.

Our conservators have experience in restoring a variety of objects that are both decorative and functional, such as the chess board. For such an interesting piece, conservation was hugely important to ensure its continued maintenance. Mr Brown had the chess pieces at home in good condition, so restoring the chess board would complete the set.

Assessment and Restoration

After our conservators assessed the board in the studio, it was evident that the decoration was cracking and lifting in multiple places. The wooden base was structurally stable, so our attentions were focused on stabilising the intricate decorative patterns.

This process would follow a similar treatment plan as an oil painting with flaking paint would, firstly by comprehensive consolidation. Our conservators treated the areas where decoration had cracked and was threatening to lift, and carefully re-adhered the already lifted decorative detailing.

While undertaking this part of the process, it became evident that there were some losses in the decoration. Consequently, this required more work to successfully fill the lost areas, and in-paint the new decoration sympathetically to match the existing decoration. Retouching the consolidated areas also reduced the appearance of the cracks so they were no longer visible.

After further study into the chess board, our conservators believed it dated back to c1820 – 1860. Understandably, it benefitted from a thorough clean to remove dirt and contaminants and revive the dulled colours of the decoration. Instead of the muted tones that arrived in the studio, cleaning brought back the vibrancy of the sapphire blue, rich red and shining gold decoration.

Working on such a unique piece was a thoroughly enjoyable project for our conservators and the result is a seamless restoration.

We were delighted to return the fully stabilised and restored chess board back to Mr Brown now it has been comprehensively preserved for the future.

If you have a similar object requiring restoration, please contact us for our advice and recommendations.

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