Q: My daughter found this chest a few years ago. It has a metal tag that says “George Zee & Co., Art Carved Furniture Manufacturers, No. 1 Granville Road/New Rd., Kowloon, Hongkong, Made in Hong Kong, No. 51-13489.” There’s a lot of carving on the top, front and side handles. It was quite damaged, so she had it stripped and repaired, but it needs to be stained. What stain would be best for the outside of the chest? I enjoy working on these projects and don’t intend to sell it. Can you tell me the age of the chest?
A: George Zee studied at Princeton Theological Seminary but decided to go into business instead of the ministry after returning to China. He started his furniture company in Shanghai in the 1930s. The company made camphor wood and teak furniture. Zee moved to Hong Kong before the communists took over the Chinese government in 1949 and reestablished his business there. Eventually he had two factories and at least three stores. George Zee & Co. was incorporated in 1961. Some George Zee & Co. furniture was made by other companies. The company’s carved wood furniture and camphor wood chests were popular with members of the United States military stationed in the Far East and with buyers from other countries. After George Zee died in 1967, his widow ran the company. The corporation was dissolved in 2010. Your chest could be from the 1950s or later. You should stain it a shade of brown to copy an original.