This summer I defined stringing in a blog post accompanied by a picture of Tokyo and I crabbing(with String!) in Florida. Today, I want to discuss another term used in the world of furniture. Cock bead or Cocked Beading. While I don’t really know the origins of the term, The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia defines the term as “In joinery, a bead which is not flush with the surface but raised above it.” However, appraisers and students of fine furniture more typically think of cocked beading as it refers to drawers. An old reference book, in my vast collection of books, defines cock bead as such “small half-round projecting molding applied to the edge of drawers. First appears in English work after 1730, and American work somewhat later. Sheraton and many French designers sometimes used strips of brass for this purpose.”
Speaking of purpose, what is the purpose of cock-beading ? Well there are several purposes. 1) It protects. Drawer fronts usually have applied fine and exotic veneers, the edges of a veneered surface are the first to get chipped or begin to loosen. Cock-bead covers that veneer joint and protects it. 2) It is a visual detail. It looks good. It outlines the drawer fronts and creates a more visually appealing front profile.
Like stringing cock beading is an “extra” or “add-on”. It adds visual interest but is not necessary . More expensive to originally craft and apply to an early American piece of furniture, it typically is a sign of craftsmanship and can add to the value of a piece.
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