1797 Chester County Marriage Chest
Appraised Value: $20,000 - $30,000 (2009)
$20,000 - $30,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (3:25)
GUEST: My mother gave me this in the mid-'70s. I had been living in Africa, and I came back and had no furniture. And she gave it to me as I was trying to furnish a house. My sister tells me that she gave it to me because it says "Joe" on there.
APPRAISER: And where did she get it?
GUEST: Someone gave it to her.
APPRAISER: Just gave it.
GUEST: In Phoenix. And I do not know who gave it to her. Once I was told that it was from Pennsylvania. I was also told that the J-O and E-O may be initials of a couple that was getting married and that it was a marriage chest.
GUEST: And obviously the date speaks for itself.
APPRAISER: The date speaks for itself-- 1797.
GUEST: Other than that, I really know nothing.
APPRAISER: It's a Chippendale, Chester County, Pennsylvania, tall chest. So Chester County was about 25 miles from Philadelphia, so the cabinetmakers there were working in roughly a Philadelphia style, but doing their own thing. There are distinctive things that are Chester County, Pennsylvania, about this. By 1797, there were Anglo settlers from England, there were Welsh settlers and there were German settlers. So these pieces have a combination of all three of those immigrants' work. At the top we have this ogee molding, and then J-O and E-O.
GUEST: So it is a marriage chest.
APPRAISER: Probably celebrating the marriage of a couple in 1797. The brasses flanking are Chippendale brasses that are original brasses. We go down, and the pair of drawers flanking this wonderful drawer, and then graduated drawers with thumb-molded edges, and this bottom drawer is massive.
GUEST: Right, it is, it's heavy.
APPRAISER: And here are these classic Chester County feet with these big spurs here, these massive, wonderful, large ogee feet, and look at the surface on that, the color of the wood. Now, the thing that I think is really neat about this that you know about, I know, is this drawer, right?
APPRAISER: And originally, this did not have a knob. That was a decorative panel. There's no marks around it from where people pulled it. It looked like a decorative panel.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: So you unlock this drawer and you pull it out, you slip inside, push that hole, and lo and behold, you open it up and here is the spring lock right here that held that in. That was the only way you could get it open is to open this drawer and go up. So here we have a shallow drawer and this really neat hidden drawer. Now, this poplar on that drawer is over 200 years old, and it smells like it was cut yesterday. You can smell that wood. Doesn't that smell like fresh-cut wood? I'm going to slide this back in. The wood is walnut, which was a locally grown wood, American black walnut. And that is holly wood-- it's H-O-L-L-Y. It's a light wood, and they used it because it contrasted with the walnut. That was really popular in Chester County, which is known for inlaid furniture. The black, I think it could be an ebony. This piece, because of all the great things it has would be estimated conservatively at auction at $20,000 to $30,000 on it.
APPRAISER: I mean, and that's a conservative estimate. Because of all those things, it could bring much more than that.
GUEST: That's nice!
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