Maple Chest, ca. 1830
Appraised Value: $1,200 - $1,500 (1997)
$1,200 - $1,500 (2011)
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:08)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
GUEST: Piece came from my great-great-grandfather, who set up housekeeping in Baltimore when he got married in 1835.
APPRAISER: Not only is it from Baltimore, but I can tell you who made it:
APPRAISER: A man named John Needles. John Needles was a reasonably famous cabinetmaker even in his own day. He's one of the few cabinetmakers who've ever left us with an autobiography. He had a fondness for maple. Maple was so dear to him he made the doors of his house out of maple. And so when you look at this piece, you can see how Needles' love of maple was something that he passed on to his clients. Now, something you may not be able to notice too much now is when you look at this piece here, you can see that it has mahogany for the doorknobs, and on the edging they used mahogany trim to accent the maple. Needles isn't just known for his love of maple. If we look inside here at the drawer...He had a very distinctive drawer construction. And you can just see the little cuts that he made here. And if we look across here, he used a series of segmented blocks in the bottom. And if we look inside again-- he liked to veneer on white pine and use this nice mahogany trim. All of which are little touches that even though we don't have a label on this example, we know it was made by John Needles. Do you have any sense of what it's worth?
GUEST: No. From my great-aunt's estate it was mislisted as a late 19th-century piece. So didn't trust what I saw there.
APPRAISER: Typically, empire chests of drawers don't go for a lot of money. But people really like maple now, and maple chests, maple chairs always do better than their comparable mahogany examples when we're talking about empire furniture. And in this case, I'd say that this chest of drawers is worth between $1,200 and $1,500.
GUEST: That'll surprise a few people in the family.
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