Connecticut Chest, ca. 1790

Value (2006) | $18,000 Insurance$20,000 Insurance

Well, it belonged to my mother, who got it from her mother, who got it from her mother. And I know it's from Hartford, Connecticut, where my great-grandmother had it. That's as far back as I know anything about it.

Now, how did it get to Hawaii?

Oh, well, my mother's side of the family is from Massachusetts and Hartford. My father is from Hawaii. So when my mother's mother passed on, my mother had her estate shipped to Hawaii.

Well, you got the right answer first. And that's Hartford, Connecticut. We're going to cut to the quick. I've looked at it, I've turned it over, I've pulled all the drawers, I've called back east, I've talked to a friend in Connecticut, but you hit it right on the number. It's from Hartford, Connecticut. It was made there about 200 years ago, probably sometime, say, around 1780 to about 1800.

No kidding?

Now, what's interesting about the Hartford school in this case is that there are variations within that. It's not a monolith. And this piece has a lot of characteristics that we'd see on pieces out of Massachusetts. When you look at it, this double oxbow and the fact that this rail here has the beads on the rail and not on the drawers-- these are all things we also see in Massachusetts pieces. The really cool thing about it is, it's what you would call an oxbow or a reverse serpentine, which is how they do that double curve. Now, if you were looking at something and it was veneered and very complex, they might do what they call a "brickwork" technique, which is they will build it up like bricks in a house and then lay the veneer on top. But this piece is cut out of a solid, so that if I pull the drawer out here and we can see we've got this nice double curve.

It's amazing.

Very elegant... it literally is sawn out of a solid block.

I'll be darned.

Now, you think they took a block for each piece and did it-- no, no. What they did was they took a wide block, and when they cut the first, the back cut gave them the front cut of the second. This back cut of the second gave them the front cut of the third. Now, I got to tell you a couple things about value and condition. Without question, cherry is probably the second-hardest only to maple wood to keep a great color in, and in your case, this has absolutely what the market loves. It is the perfect cherry color. That deep rich red, very even tones. Now, we've got a little bit of wear on the top, but nothing serious. In the body of the piece, it's absolutely perfect. Now, very common for these things to lose their feet, which has tremendous effect on value. In your case, on your side down there in the corner, we've lost part of a foot facing, and on the back rear we've lost part of a foot facing, but the feet are original, all that is great. Another thing that's really great about this piece in terms of its condition is these are the original brasses. And that helps us date it because, although this form dates from as early as kind of like the 1760s in some areas, these brasses really don't come in until about the time of the Revolution at its end. So that gives us a smarter sense that it's 1780 to 1800. And original brasses, also, are very critical to value on a piece like this. For insurance purposes, because I know you want to keep it in the family, I would put a value on this of about $18,000 to $20,000.

$20,000, okay. Sounds good. We better do that, then.

That's right.

Appraisal Details

J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
Baltimore, MD
Appraised value (2006)
$18,000 Insurance$20,000 Insurance
Honolulu, HI (August 26, 2006)

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