Early in the present century the method generally adopted for
polishing furniture was by rubbing with beeswax and turpentine
or with linseed−oil. That process, however, was never
considered to be very satisfactory, which fact probably led to
experiments being made for the discovery of an improvement.
The first intimation of success in this direction appeared in
the Mechanic's Magazine of November 22, 1823, and ran as
follows: "The Parisians have now introduced an entirely new mode
of polishing, which is called plaque, and is to wood precisely
what plating is to metal. The wood by some process is made
to resemble marble, and has all the beauty of that article with
much of its solidity. It is even asserted by persons who have
made trial of the new mode that water may be spilled upon it
without staining it." Such was the announcement of an
invention which was destined ultimately to become a new
The following pages commence with a description of the art of
French Polishing in its earliest infancy, care having been taken
by the Author, to the best of his ability, to note all the new
processes and manipulations, as well as to concisely and
perspicuously arrange and describe the various materials
employed, not only for French polishing but for the improving
and preparation of furniture woods, a matter of great importance
to the polisher.
The arts of Staining and Imitating, whereby inferior woods are
made to resemble the most costly, are also fully treated, as
well as the processes of Enamelling, both in oil−varnishes and
French polish, together with the method of decorating the same.
The condition of the art of polishing in America is dwelt upon,
and various interesting articles written by practical polishers
in the States, which appeared in their trade journal, The
Cabinet−maker, have been revised and printed in this work.
A number of valuable recipes, and other instructive matter,
useful alike to the amateur and to the practical workman, are