The in house estimate on the antique sofa seemed like every other,
except there was something very familiar about the workmanship of the
last upholsterer. I was told the sofa was Civil War era. “Whoever did it last
was a good upholsterer but struggled with the curves because he was spitting
tacks and not using a staple gun,” I said to the customer. I looked closer
and saw the double welt was pieced across the welt rather than on the bias
and, I thought to myself, it looks like my mentor’s work. I asked the customer
if she remembered who did it last and she said, ” Well no but it was done in Newton MA
in 1976.” In surprise I replied, “WOW! Newton is where I started in the business
and I know who did this sofa, My mentor Mr. Ruby!” I was certain. I had only been
working as an apprentice at his shop in Newton MA for one year when the sofa was done!
I had to check and hoped that when I was removing the old cover
I would find his signature and I was not disappointed. I found
something better. A code unique to upholstering and further unique to
each upholsterer. In chalk on the backside of the fabric and on the
outside back of the piece was the code OSB or” Outside back” in my
mentors handwriting! This treasure is far greater than any other find.
I often think of the kindness of my mentor who passed on decades ago and
having this sofa come back to me has made me think how lucky I was to
have learned from him.
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