Michael Markley’s Views on the Care and Feeding of Antique Furniture

The piece you purchase will have been cleaned and waxed using products from Dugay in Paris.  This is the traditional French method of caring for solid wood furniture and preserving the natural beauty of the wood.  It is the only method recommended to care for fine French furniture.  All that is required is occasional dusting and, every three to five years, a thorough waxing with Pate Dugay.

How to Dust

To dust, it is best to use specialty brushes (e.g., a horsehair shoe polishing brush) to access the intricate carving and to use a soft towel (the pile is the key) to gently clean flat surfaces.

Because gravity forces the dust downward, it is important to start at the top of your pieces and work your way down.  If possible, have your air conditioning system running so that the dust particles are directed to the filter and less likely to resettle on the furniture.

Curves or columns that are close to the body of the furniture may require inserting a cloth between the column and the body of the furniture, moving gently back and forth.


Furniture should require waxing only every three to five years, in conditions of normal usage.  The French waxing process uses waxes matched to the color of the wood (considering whatever stains and finishes were applied at the time of creation) and is designed to combat the natural lightening effects of ultra violet light and preserve the original depth and richness of the wood.

Our recommendation is to use only traditional French colored waxes such as Pate Dugay (the solvent for which is either mineral spirits or paint thinner).  Using  a soft cloth, apply the wax to flat, non-carved surfaces.  For details and carvings, use a natural fiber paint brush that is dipped into the wax and then painted evenly onto the details and carvings.  Wax should dry at least an hour, depending on the humidity, and then buff the furniture with soft toweling on the flat surfaces and highlights of the carved surfaces.  Use a special polishing brush for crevices and indentations of the carved and detailed surfaces.  Brush and/or buff until the dull appearance of the wax gives way to the gleaming reflectivity of a well-waxed surface.  The process is not unlike polishing shoes.


The waxing process inevitably results in wax deposits in the carvings and deep surfaces.  This accumulated wax (and dust!) gives the pieces what is known as their patina.  Having chosen the ideal wax color for the furniture, the result will be a long-term enhancement of the natural beauty of the wood and artistry of its creator.


Beware of products that talk about “feeding the wood.”  This is impossible since the wood has already been sealed behind lacquers or shellacs, in place since the piece was created, and so products such as orange oil or “miracle products” of any kind cannot penetrate and only evaporate from the surface.  However, they will cause dulling and they leave surface residues that gum up on the furniture and come off on anything that comes in contact with it.