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Japanese Tansu Writing Desk (19th Century)

Japanese Tansu Writing Desk (19th Century)

Tansu (箪笥) is the traditional mobile storage cabinetry indigenous to Japan. The original hinges and metal work are as delicate as birds wings. Metals were treated like semi precious materials due to scarcity and crafted with great skill and reverence for their properties.

This gorgeous miniature Japanese desk is a portable, fold out writing box with spaces for pens, inks and a writing surface. It has beautiful, delicate marquetry work and beaten copper furniture engraved with lotus flowers and other floral motifs.

The hinges and some of the decorative corners were torn, the top was dry, discoloured and warped. The whole desk needed a good clean and some recolouring.

The 2 sides come apart and the top leaf can be inserted in between to create a writing surface.

The hinges were broken and needed replacing. So new hinges were created and the original leaves rivetted on top.

The repaired hinges are then pinned back in place and the little door rehung.

After regluing a drawer, we also created some new handles which were missing on each side of the desk.

The discoloured top leave is lightly sanded, cleaned and recoloured before the whole desk is cleaned up, and varnished before being waxed.