Painted Dower Chest, ca. 1800
Appraised Value: $10,000 - $15,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:43)
Clocks & Watches, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture
Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts, Partner, Executive Vice President & Chief Auctioneer
GUEST: I know very little of its history, just my mother's had it since I can remember as a kid, and I don't know where it came from, you know, where she got it.
APPRAISER: Where did she live?
GUEST: She came originally from Colorado, and then moved to Florida in '26.
APPRAISER: Did anyone in the family that you know of ever live in Pennsylvania?
GUEST: No, some of my dad's family came out of Indiana, but...
APPRAISER: This piece was made in Pennsylvania.
APPRAISER: It was made probably about 1790 or 1800, so it's very old. It can be locked-- there's a reason for that. This chest which would have been used... well, some would call it a dower chest, but valuables would have been kept in it. But this piece is well made. It's meant to last, as it has. Dovetail construction here in the case, which continues to the bracket foot. It's remarkable that the bracket foot is still on there, but it is well constructed so it hasn't been knocked off. This attention to detail, which includes an applied molding, which is held on with wooden pegs. The attention to detail continues to the interior. We see that this is made of white pine. The ends are made of poplar. These are woods that are indigenous to Pennsylvania. In the dramatic tradition there's been wonderful care to make these wrought-iron strap hinges really rather beautiful. That continues to the locking mechanism. A little more detail would be this till, as they call it. Smaller valuable things would be kept in this. They've gone to the trouble of molding the edge. Not only is it attractive, but it makes it easier to hold on to and lift the lid.
APPRAISER: The remarkable thing about this piece is that nobody has refinished it, which is an excellent thing. The tendency is to clean it up a little bit. I don't think it's ever been cleaned. The front panel is the most interesting part. It's centered by a beautifully drawn heart, and you guys have made out that the girl's first name was Sophia. I think with some time and attention, it might be possible to figure out what the last name is and hence perhaps do some genealogical work to figure specifically where Sophia might have lived. But this motif is very symmetrical, having this central heart, these stylized tulips and flowers freehand, wonderful decorative borders. It's in remarkably good condition when you consider what might have happened to it over the years. All the original color is there, and a professional could guide you, if you want to do it, to perhaps cleaning it up a little bit. But great caution has to be used in doing this. These colors would come back to some degree. As far as value goes, we think in this condition it's probably worth in the area of $10,000 to $15,000.
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