Antique French Ormolu Sideboard

We purchased this sideboard from a woman that said she acquired it years ago from an antique store in Prescott, Arizona at a price of $3,000. She then decided to “refinish” the piece by removing all the brass hardware and imitation tortoise shell (throwing away the doors) and painting the piece with a few different colors of latex paint. She was moving that day and needed to sell it. We decided to try and rescue it.

Sideboard - Before

Sideboard – Before

Using Jasco paint stripper we removed the several layers of paint and found that it had originally been a black lacquer finish over solid hardwood with plywood panels.

The sideboard had come with a box of 55 pieces of cast brass ornaments that had been previously removed. The marble top was in pretty good condition. The drawers have dovetail construction.



A little research leads us to believe this piece was originally a Boulle style French sideboard with imitation tortoise shell inlay and ormolu adornments. Since the tortoise shell and brass inlay had been destroyed by the previous owner and the original doors were missing, we decided to refinish and repurpose the piece into something that didn’t look like it belonged in Donald Trumps condo.

Boulle Style French Sideboard - Picture Representing Original Design

Boulle Style French Sideboard – Picture Representing a Similar Original Design

We soaked all the cast brass pieces in Purple Power degreaser for a day. The pieces were solid brass, the larger ones weighing almost 2 lbs each. Wearing protective gloves we used a brush to apply Novacan Black Patina (which contains nitric acid and selenium compounds) to give an aged copper patina to the brass ornaments brushing with 0000 steel wool. This deposits a thin layer of copper onto the bright brass. After a few treatments we obtained the results we were looking for and sealed the pieces with a light coat of Helmsman clear satin spar urethane.

Ormolu - Brass Before

Ormolu – Brass Before

Ormolu - Plating

Ormolu – Plating

Ormolu - Patina After

Ormolu – Patina After

The sideboard had brass pegs for a shelf that was missing, so we fabricated a replacement and finished all the hardwood with Minwax espresso stain and sealed with Helmsmen clear satin Spar Urethane. We then matched the 55 pieces of brass to their original locations and installed them to complete the piece.

Sideboard - Top Face

Sideboard – Top Face

Sideboard - Side View

Sideboard – Side View

Sideboard - Side Face

Sideboard – Side Face

Sideboard - Drawer

Sideboard – Drawer

Sideboard - Corner View

Sideboard – Corner View

Sideboard - Bottom Face

Sideboard – Bottom Face

Sideboard - After

Sideboard – After

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