Clarence from Milwaukee brought in a handsome mahogany desk and bookcase that he said his family has owned for many years. He said the piece originated with his wife's ancestor, Richard D. Hubbard, who was governor of Connecticut in the late 1870s.
Perhaps tipping Clarence off to the fact that they found it exceptional, Leigh and Leslie Keno decided to appraise the piece together. Though the top and bottom are separate, the Kenos said the well-matched wood strongly indicates that both pieces are original and united — not a later "marriage."
Evidence that this is a classic example of 18th-century New York cabinetmaking can be seen in the graduated drawers and brasses, squared claw-and-ball feet, inverted decorative cut-out, and gadrooned edge along the bottom.
Leigh and Leslie praised the remarkable presence of the original, illustrated maker's label still affixed inside the top drawer, which helps trace the making of this set to the 1770s, when Prince was at work in New York City. The label reads "Samuel Prince, Joyner, At the Chest of Draws, In Cart & Horse Street, New York, Makes and Sells all Sorts of Joyners' Work on the Lowest Terms."
If the top and the base were a marriage of separate pieces, such an exquisite pairing of furniture might fetch $20,000. But if its authenticity as an original set were verified, the Kenos said Clarence's masterpiece could be worth as much as $250,000.