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    Follow the Stories | Detroit, MI (2014)

    Seeing Double: Federal Bowfront Servers

    • The Hallmarks of William Hook
      The Hallmarks of William Hook

      There's wooden cabinetry, and then there's Federal cabinetry made by Salem, Massachusetts, cabinetmaker William Hook. This piece, appraised by Andrew Holter at the Detroit ROADSHOW event in 2013 for an auction estimate of $5,000 to $8,000, showed signs of Hook's mastery in the water-leaf carving on the tops of the colonettes, as well as the reeded legs. "At the top, you see these wonderful outset corners with turned roundels," Holter described, "and then it continues to this great molding … with this kind of rope-form beading" — more details that can be attributed to Hook.
    • Not Your Average Cabinet
      Not Your Average Cabinet

      This piece, dating from around 1810 and featuring mahogany, rosewood and birchwood, stands out in particular because of the light and dark panels creating the sunburst effect. "It's really a tour de force of cabinetmaking," Holter said. "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." In researching the chest, Holter discovered that a very similar piece existed in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

    • A Sunburst at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
      A Sunburst at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

      This cabinet was made for Hook's sister, Hannah Hook Folsom, in about 1808, and is currently in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Note that this piece also has the special sunburst and leg details as seen in the piece Holter appraised in Detroit.

      Sideboard, William Hook (American, 1777-1867) about 1808
      Mahogany, mahogany veneer, pine, birch, satinwood veneer, another 
exotic wood veneer, rosewood veneer
      Bequest of Mrs. Mabel H. F. McInnes
      Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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