Tennessee Sugar Chest, ca. 1835
Appraised Value: $5,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:28)
Senior Vice President & Director, American Furniture and Decorative Arts
GUEST: It's been in my family since day one, which is probably 1841, which is when my grandparents married. And they were married 65 years in 1906. He was 91 years old when this picture was taken.
APPRAISER: Well, it says here, "One of the oldest married couples in Tennessee." They had how many children?
GUEST: They had 11 children, three died in infancy. The oldest was my great-grandfather, and that's how it came down to me eventually.
APPRAISER: What would you like to know about this?
GUEST: Well, I know it's a sugar chest. Didn't know that for the longest time. Originally, my grandmother told me it had been in her dining room and she kept sugar in it.
APPRAISER: She kept sugar in it?
GUEST: We don't.
GUEST: Of course, everyone prior to that kept sugar in it. And I'm curious what wood it is.
APPRAISER: Okay, this is from middle Tennessee, and it's a pretty rare piece. This is a sugar chest made of cherry wood, circa 1835. One of the reasons we know it's actually made in this middle Tennessee area are these particular turnings on the legs, this tapered cone with this vase and then the peg feet. And the sugar chest is really a unique Southern form of furniture. One of the reasons is just because of the plantation culture in the South. And really, in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky, sugar chests were used. You had a big staff, lots of people, in a remote area sometimes, away from the water, so you needed to stock up on the sugar. And this one actually survived in really good shape. Now, I want to open it up here and look inside. And we see this hinged lid with this big well, and you may not notice, but there's a divider line right here, and that was to hold the brown sugar loaves on this side, the larger loaves, and then the more expensive white sugar, which was purer, used for delicacies, was kept on this side. And sugar back then was very expensive, and that's why there are locks on this lid and on the drawer below. It was really expensive, so these were actually used in the dining room as a status symbol-- that, you know, you could afford the sugar. And the Southern furniture market right now is actually... is really good. There's been a lot... a great interest in Southern furniture. If I were insuring this, I'd put the value down at about $5,000.
GUEST: Really? That's great.
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