19th-Century Painted Blanket Chest

Value (2005) | $2,500 Auction$3,500 Auction

APPRAISER:
You were telling me that your mom got this blanket chest a while ago?

GUEST:
Yes, she did. I believe it was in the middle 1950s. She liked to go to auctions. I'm from New Haven, Connecticut, and I'm pretty sure that it was probably in Connecticut.

APPRAISER:
Well, that makes sense because this basic form is the kind of blanket chest that you see in New England.

GUEST:
She used two words: "colonial" and "18th century."

APPRAISER:
Well, this form has been made since the 18th century, and it was made all the way up into 1850s. And the thing that I really liked about it was the fact that it had this paint decoration on it. Paint sometimes is an acquired taste, and back when your mom bought this in the '50s, usually first thing they did was strip them.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Absolutely. This style of paint decoration is referred to as stenciling.

GUEST:
Right. I knew that.

APPRAISER:
And it became real popular in the early 1800s, and by the 1830s, people were doing it in their homes, mainly ladies, and actually ladies worked in the Hitchcock factory in Connecticut and decorated chairs. So most people refer to this as a "Hitchcock" style of decoration. Because that's where you see most of it. This particular chest, the paint was done later than the chest was done.

GUEST:
That's what I wondered, because I saw on the inside, you can see where there was a red... a red layer down first.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, what happened was they didn't have a piece of string to catch it and they lifted the lid and it flopped back and it broke the hinges out. And right here you can see the patch and you also see the red paint extending over to the patch. So that's a clue. And what they did basically was they painted the red first, streaked the black, and then stenciled all the rest of this. It's very attractive, and it's got wear. And to me, the honest wear is what makes something attractive.

GUEST:
I think it gives it character.

APPRAISER:
It's got personality. And the fact that it was painted later to me is not a fatal blow or anything, because that makes it interesting. If it was just a stripped pine blanket chest it wouldn't have near as much interest as it does now. You know what your mom paid for it in the '50s?

GUEST:
I have a feeling it may have been between $100 and $150.

APPRAISER:
That sounds about right. I talked to several of the guys at the furniture table and we all think that it would bring $2,500 to $3,500 at auction.

GUEST:
My goodness. That's a good investment. She would be very, very pleased.

APPRAISER:
I'll bet she would.

GUEST:
She would be delighted. I did want to ask you, I'm not sure that I've been putting the right kind of polish on it-- not a polish. I've been using a teak wood oil.

APPRAISER:
With this type of surface, you need to be real careful. And most furniture restorers the first thing they'll tell you is not to use oil on it. And if it were mine, I would wipe it with a dry cloth and make sure we get the dust out of the cracks.

GUEST:
Just dust it basically?

APPRAISER:
That's all I would do to it.

GUEST:
That makes things easy, doesn't it?

APPRAISER:
It does. Well, thanks for coming in today.

GUEST:
Thank you so much.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Ken Farmer & Associates
Charlottesville, VA
Appraised value (2005)
$2,500 Auction$3,500 Auction
Event
Houston, TX (July 16, 2005)
Period
19th Century
Form
Chest

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