North Carolina Desk and Bookcase
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $12,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:04)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture
GUEST: We don't know too much. It's been in our family for a long time. My grandmother, when she died, we got it about 25 years ago. The family story that I remember was that it came from either Virginia or North Carolina back in the 1820s or '30s, when their family moved to Greensboro, Alabama, which is in the middle of the state.
APPRAISER: I see. What do you most want to know about the piece?
GUEST: Well, I had some questions. One, there are holes in the tops here, and I wondered if there were finials on there or something originally.
APPRAISER: It definitely would have had fairly simple urn-shaped finials, both in the center and on the outside. One of the most distinctive details about this piece, I think, is the pediment, which has this great cresting wave going toward the center, or scrolls. You do find that kind of pediment in Central and Southern Virginia and down into the Piedmont of North Carolina. So, right off the bat, what you tell me about the history of it makes sense from what I see with the physical attributes of the piece. You have this beautiful vertical span. How tall are your ceilings at home?
GUEST: That's been a problem. We've moved several times and finding a house with nine- or higher- foot ceilings has been quite a problem.
APPRAISER: This looks like over eight feet.
GUEST: It's about 8 1/2 feet, yeah.
APPRAISER: 8 1/2. Well, it does have that great vertical sweep, which is also characteristic of Southern pieces of this period. Pieces of this form, with the deep top drawer here and turned feet-- you're getting into the 1820s, into the 1830s or so, when you see that form. One of the nice details about this is the original glass that you see in these doors.
APPRAISER: The inclusions and bubbles and that sort of thing in it tell us that it's in all likelihood period glass. One thing to look for on these is: a good craftsman would often have the shelves in the interior line up with the mullions on the doors. Now, these don't line up, but the shelves are replaced.
GUEST: It looks like there were originally maybe even adjustable shelves there or something?
GUEST: Exactly. You could have the shelf set so it was at the mullion height--
APPRAISER: --or you could adjust it a bit. Another detail is the woods that the cabinetmaker chose. The backboards are poplar, yellow pine inside the case, um, in some of the drawers, secondary. Typical woods for Piedmont, North Carolina, and up into Virginia. So again we have another corroborating bit of evidence there. Let's have a quick look in the interior here. This nice fold- down secretary. Again, typical of that 1820s and '30s period. You have a very meticulous craftsman here. In the back of the prospect door, you see here where he has hollowed these out so you can close it all the way and it will account for the knobs. Very finely detailed construction, fine dovetailing. This is a piece at auction that would bring probably $8,000 to $12,000. Great to see it. Thank you for coming in.
GUEST: Thanks, that's great to know. I appreciate all your information.
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