Federal Bowfront Server Attrib. to William Hook, ca. 1810
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $8,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:35)
GUEST: It's a piece of furniture I've had for about two years now, I guess. I bought it from a couple that was going through a divorce. They needed the cash, they were ready to unload, and I liked the piece, and they made a deal with me.
APPRAISER: So did they give you any specifics about where they thought it was from?
GUEST: They thought it was from the East Coast somewhere.
APPRAISER: They are right, it's from the East Coast. This is what we would describe as a Federal mahogany rosewood and birchwood inlaid bowfront server. And it's likely made in Salem, Massachusetts. And if we look carefully, there's certain details that we can attribute this to a maker named William Hook. At the top, you see these wonderful outset corners with turned roundels, and then it continues to this great molding here with this kind of rope form beading. There's this fantastic water leaf carving on the top of the colonettes...
APPRAISER: ...continuing to this reeded leg, and these are all hallmarks of this Salem-area cabinetmaker, William Hook. For collectors of American furniture, we love things to be narrow, shallow in depth and vertical, and this has got this great airy feeling about it. The main eye-catching thing is this wonderful veneer work. You've got these alternating light and dark panels creating this sunburst effect. You have these dark mahogany panels versus this wonderful flame birch. What I really love, at the bottom of this sunburst, you've got this wonderful fan inlay. There's some curved movement here. The cabinetmaker's taken hot sand to create this shaded effect. If this is in fact William Hook, he's gone and he's added these veneer panels on the side, which is an extra touch. Most of them, you just see straight sides. Also, on the back side, the carver of these capitals has carved all the way around. Typically, in Massachusetts cabinet making, they never finish the back side. This piece would have been against the wall. I see. So this cabinetmaker has gone the extra mile, so this is a really special piece. It's in great condition. It has been refinished. We can tell that there's a little shine to the top, but it was gently done. It looks like these could possibly be the original punched brass hardware. It's really a tour de force of cabinet making.
APPRAISER: I was really excited. I did a little bit of research, and I was able to find almost a nearly identical piece that's in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and it was made for his sister, Hannah Hook Folsom, about 1808 to 1809.
APPRAISER: So you've got this wonderful server made between 1800 and 1820, but I would say circa 1810. We think we know the cabinetmaker. Now, you bought it in a divorce situation. Do you remember what you had to pay for it?
GUEST: I paid, like, $1,800 for this piece. That was a lot, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to pay that much, but they said they were taking a loss.
APPRAISER: You'll be happy to know you did all right. If this piece were to come to auction, I would put an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000 on it.
GUEST: Wow, great.
APPRAISER: It's all about this wonderful sunburst. If this was just a bowfront chest of drawers, you'd be looking at about a $1,000 chest.
GUEST: Great, well, thank you.
APPRAISER: Thank you for coming to the Roadshow.
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