Even though our store has been open for 10 years now, we’re constantly looking for great display pieces. We have such a soft spot for antique and vintage, when we discovered this gorgeous jewelry case from the 1920s, it was love at first sight!
In June, we acquired a spectacular antique jewelry case from Arcade Jewelers in Riverside. Sadly, after over 40 years, they were going out of business. The jewelry case had been a fundamental piece in Arcade since the day they opened, and we fell in love as soon as we laid eyes on it. The U shape went well with our existing jewelry case, the wood has the same grain, and lots of storage space under the case (something our current small case does not have). When we purchased this beauty, Arcade had movers scheduled so all we had to do was move our current jewelry case out of the way, and we’d barely have to lift a finger! It all sounded too good to be true!
Well. As it turned out, it WAS too good to be true.
We knew that delivery of this piece would take some effort and skill, considering its size and the fact that it was handmade in the 1920s, but we had no idea what an ordeal this new arrival would entail.
When the movers brought the case to the store, it was in several pieces. Unbeknownst to us, they were only hired to deliver the piece and not to put it back together. And since we had no manual or guide to help us rebuild the case, we were a little panicked. The movers assured us that all would be fine – we just needed to place the legs back on it.
We didn’t feel that the legs were stable enough to hold the case up after they were taken apart, and were left wondering what to do. We also didn’t want do away with the legs, since they have such gorgeous detail. However, we couldn’t keep the case on its side forever (not only is it an eyesore in the middle of the store, but it was also unsafe to leave it in this position). So, after lots of strategizing, Pete came up with a plan. While he worked on the legs, we would put the case on sawhorse legs, so that we could still use the top of the case for jewelry display. We enlisted the help of a few FOPs (friends of the Peach) to help move the bulk of the case onto the sawhorse legs. Because of the weight of the case (heavier than it looks- trust me!) and the U shape design, we needed a large group of helpers to lift the case. Once it was hoisted on to its temporary legs, we placed the felted bottom back in the case without realizing that it had a very specific order (or else it would not fit!) Here we are trying to establish how the glass and the felt were supposed to go back in the case.
Once we had our temporary plan in place, we gave the top of the case a through cleaning and loaded it up with our favorite Michael Michaud necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pins, and rings. Pete got to work on creating a way for the old wooden legs to support the weight of the case. He made a wooden platform to put in between the top of the case and the legs to create more support for the bottom of the case.
Once the wooden platform was securely in place, we had to move the top of the case off of the sawhorse legs and onto the platform. We enlisted our FOPs for one last task, and viola!
Here it is, restored to 1920’s glory!
Now that it was back to one piece again, we got to work putting the final touches on the rest of the case. Here’s a before and after of sanding and placing new felt on the top edge. While the bulk of the work is done with this, we still have a few odds and ends to tie up (possibly putting new fabric underneath and installing lights) but that’s for another day.
We love how the piece compliments our other jewelry case and fills the room without looking too bulky or heavy. And of course, no project is complete without a proper toast! Cheers to one project down, and many more to go!
Have you ever rebuilt or moved an antique piece? We’d love to hear about your adventures in the unexpected pitfalls and triumphs of restoring an old piece of furniture!