Kilian Brothers Table In Hiding

by John Werry on December 23, 2009

Fullscreen capture 12232009 115050 AM Kilian Brothers Table In Hiding

I’m always on the lookout for Victorian furniture of note that is “hiding” in obscurity, either behind a coat of paint or a unknowing seller description.  Here was a recent one that showed up on Ebay, disguised long enough for future decades until now when it would be rediscovered and restored.

While it is not a hidden Herter Brothers’ piece, it is still a maker that I enjoy collecting.  This is a Kilian Brothers table that is well known from the catalog images previously posted here on Rare Victorian and captured in a May 1999 issue of Magazine Antiques.  I almost bid on it during the time it was in the $100 range, knowing it would cost me several hundred more to get it back to original glory but I let this one go and it ultimately sold at $355.

I have a weakness for these damaged goods to the point where I am unafraid of losing money in the transaction to get the piece back into circulation in the condition it should be for another 100 years of life.  Visions of unbelievably good Victorian-era furniture burned in bonfires and set out on the curb for trash pickup in decades past probably influences that tendency.  I forgot to mention in this earlier post that this signed piece by Thomas Brooks was found on the curb for trash pickup in Brooklyn by the owner’s father 50 years ago!

Hopefully the new owner of the Kilian table purchased it with the intent to get it back to a better state.  Here is an unpainted version with differing hardware on the side panels.

Kilian Brother Work Table Kilian Brothers Table In Hiding

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Andrew December 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm

I bid on this table. I wanted it very badly; and yes, I would have fully restored it. Similar sentiments about its new owner though. I hope this piece doesn’t turn into parts.

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Marc Andrew December 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm

P.S. I also have a weakness for damaged pieces in need of love. I have many a project around that has ninety-six coats of paint, or was purchased in 11 pieces. Don’t know what it is…

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Bart December 23, 2009 at 7:10 pm

What is it about us and orphaned and abused Victoriana? You should see my garage…….

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james conrad December 23, 2009 at 10:59 pm

LOL @ you should see my garage.

Well, i think if one is drawn to the form, it kinda like a lost puppy or kitty cat, hard to resist.

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woodwright December 24, 2009 at 3:17 am

My wife is very artistic and creative and with her and my ability we can see the potential in a lot of “projects” – way too many projects. We have a lifetime worth of projects now, even if we live to 150 – LOL and we never buy another project. Yes we are trying to curb our addiction – but it is hard! I own 9 antique pool tables all waiting to be restored for starters – some are truly amazing tables, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In our early days we bought a lot of cheap projects like $5.00 chairs, etc. – we had accrued quite an inventory. While I have the ability to have fixed every one – after a while I realized that if it took 2-5 days to fix a chair, refinish and reupholster (my wife’s specialty) it, plus materials and it was only worth a 2 or 3 hundred dollars when done it was not a wise investment of our resources. Even if the chairs were free it would be a bad deal. They have all been sold at garage sales or given away since coming to this realization. At least all but the very few that had enough potential to justify the time and expense of restoring them. Now if I stumbled upon a Belter or Meeks chair or something in that class that needed work – for a good price I’d buy every one I could get. My advice is to be selective about projects. We are much more selective about the projects we buy now and weigh what will it be worth when restored vs. how much time and money will it take to get it there.
I have a theory about “projects” that I believe holds a lot of water – especially for mid – low value items (maybe not so much for higher end/ value pieces). Most projects that get bought by most people get resold down the road when they die, move, need the space, get tired of looking at them or tripping over them, etc. and are sold in the same condition they were bought in (sometimes worse because of storage conditions), and it will happen over and over to the same pieces until they happen to fall in the right hands and do get resurrected from the dead or thrown out. I think a very small percentage do actually make it out of the project boneyard – restored to varying levels of quality. Some done well – others turn out more like the Killian Bros. table mentioned above. woodwright

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Marc Andrew December 24, 2009 at 7:40 am

I hear you on the chairs Woodwright. I have a collection somewhere in the area of 105. But I can’t stop…. They are mostly very good chairs (not that I can claim a name on any of them), but there are the ones I look at and say “why did I buy that? Oh right, because it looked like it was crying.” Sheesh… but seriously, that table so beautifully photographed above, is what dreams are made of. At least for this 24 year old collector.

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monkecmonkedo December 25, 2009 at 4:31 am

My wife and I won the table and plan on restoring it. We also have the bug for saving furniture, houses, etc. from the brink of destruction. :) We’ve been patiently restoring (not renovating) a 1901 Queen Anne Victorian for the last four years and are within sight of finishing it. Living in NY state, we enjoy collecting furniture from NY Makers. This is our first Kilian Brothers piece and will be my first major restoration. We hope to make it to the Munson Williams Proctor Museum in Utica, NY next week. They have a version of this table I’d like to use for a reference. There are also plenty of photos here and elsewhere on the web that should be helpful.

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