I bought a very early, perhaps 1905-1910 vintage, Conklin countertop store display case, in pieces. Fortunately all the pieces were there and none were badly damaged. I decided to restore it to proper use, but not to attempt to refinish wood or replace cloth unless it were absolutely necessary.
I found that the key to the original lock on the back door must have been lost decades ago, because the door was now held closed by a large nail inserted from the side through a hold drilled in the frame and into the door. I took the door to a locksmith, who made a key for me. I plan to attach that key securely so that it will not be separated from the display again.
I disassembled and re-glued the frame that surrounds the door and also the frame of one of the two pen trays. I decided against refinishing any of the wood, as it was in quite good condition. I did clean it thoroughly, though, as it had accumulated the grime of the ages.
After studying how glass panels were glued in the old days, I cleaned the edges of the glass and glued new baize strips to them. Originally, hide glue would have been used, along with good felt, but I decided to go with a modern cement for glass, keeping the felt/baize strips for proper appearance. The wooden strips that support the two pen trays were glued to the inside of the glass, and I had to re-glue them as well.
Once all the preliminaries were done, I began to glue the glass panels to the wooden frame. Finding ways to clamp them in place while the glue set was a challenge, but a pair of soft-jawed bar clamps really got the job done. The two side panels went on first, then the front pane. Finally, the top panel was glued to the top of the frame and the other three panels.
After a day for the glue to set, I slipped the two pen trays into the case and all was done. I have a small collection of Conklin Crescent Filler fountain pens, the very ones that would have been displayed in this case, so I placed them in the top tray and filled the bottom tray with an assortment of other pens.
I’m quite pleased with the results. Click on any image to open the gallery for larger views.