John in NM
Its the conclusion of those who have had to fix old finishes
I've seen shellac that has failed after ~30 years or less. The cracking pattern is distinctive, so if you know it the solution is easy enough, just coat with more shellac would be my first try. Probably that would repair the old finish and then you'd have to lay on a nice version over the top - pad or spray.
The piece I saw it on I didn't know what it was until years later. Never liked that thing anyway, it was a table lamp my mother bought in the 70's, probably dated to the 1950's or early 60's.
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