Friday, August 23, 2019

Oak Wash Stand with Alaskan Provenance

    First I cannot believe it's been so long since I have posted.  At the beginning of this season at the cabin we had hail on several days and of course the rain that came with it.  For a few weeks after that we had several weeks of hot sunny days.  That was good for bailing the hay we needed to get bailed, but it also kept me busy watching grand kids.  For most of this month, is has rained and been quite humid, which makes it difficult to finish furniture.  I have finally finished one of the oak pieces I have tried to get done for so long.  I stopped at a sale where a man had recently passed.  His sister from out of state had been tasked with settling his estate.  There really was not much at the sale, but when I saw this I new it was a wonderful piece, and a quick walk around enabled me to see that it had been stamped E.R. Peoples Fairbanks, AK.  I felt that any piece marked like this was interesting, and  I also realized this was a sold oak piece, no veneer.  The drawers looked good, but as a whole it was quite dirty and the finish was coming off.
I am always curious about the history of the pieces I buy.  E.R. Peoples and his friend built connected houses in 1909.  They were married to sisters and this was one of the first modern homes in Fairbanks.  Mr Peoples owned the E.R.Peoples General Merchandise store.  I do not know the date that the store opened, but chances are it was during the early days of the gold rush in Fairbanks, around 1902.  While I found references into the 20's of the store, the Peoples moved to Washington state by 1919.  They were friends of Judge Wikersham and I found references to them in his diary.
    I removed the old finish and cleaned the wash stand up.  I used an oil to restore the color to the wood, as it can look too light after sanding.  The downside is that you must wait long enough for the oil to be completely dry before adding shellac.  With her pretty serpentine shape and glowing new finish, I feel that she is a wonderful piece, that hasn't lost her original character.  I can only wonder who owned her and what adventures she saw.

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