1723 American Miniature Blanket Chest

Value (2006) | $3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction

This was given to me this weekend, actually, before I came to the ROADSHOW, by my grandma. And it's always been on the top of her bookshelf in the living room, and she wanted me to have it as a wedding present.

This is an absolute little jewel of a piece of American furniture. It is a miniature six-board, bootjack-end blanket chest of which there were thousands and thousands of them made. Every home in New England had the full-size ones to store their blankets in when they weren't using them. The front of this says, "Joseph Baldwin, 1723" in pinprick decoration. Now, what do you know about Joseph Baldwin?

Well, I know he was born September 14th, 1702, so he was 21 when he made it, and I know he was from Uxbridge, Massachusetts and we were able to track him down by my great-grandmother's Daughters of The Revolution certificate, so he is an ancestor of mine.

The features are so wonderful on this piece. Number one, the pinprick decoration. You have rose head nails here on the front. You have this bootjack end which is so typical of this type of blanket chest in the larger model. And when you open the lid, do you see these hinges? They're called "snipe hinges" and they're just two little pieces of wire, one piece on the top, one piece on the bottom, and it has the original surface. You should never refinish it. Apparently, somebody spilled a little bit of ink here on the top. Other than that, it is in pristine condition. And did you see what was on the top of it?

I did see a small heart.

There's a small heart there. What a wonderful piece for a grandmother to give a granddaughter as a wedding present. I would say that an auction estimate would be $3,000 to $5,000 for this piece. And there's no telling what people might bid it up to.

Thank you. I said I wasn't gonna say "Wow," but wow. (both laugh)

Appraisal Details

Northeast Auctions
Portsmouth, NH
Appraised value (2006)
$3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Milwaukee, WI (July 29, 2006)
May 18, 2009: In this segment, Cassie, the owner of the miniature blanket chest, says the inscription on the front of the piece — "Joseph Baldwin, 1723" — refers to her ancestor, born on September 14, 1702, in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. After this episode aired, a viewer wrote in claiming lineage to the same Joseph Baldwin (his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather), who he says was born on the same day but in Billerica, Massachusetts — not Uxbridge. It is difficult to say exactly whose inscription is on the box, as there were numerous Joseph Baldwins living in Massachusetts at that time. Information from the Massachusetts Vital Records Project does record a Joseph Baldwin born in Billerica, Massachusetts, on September 14, 1702. Birth records for Uxbridge, Massachusetts, do not seem to exist for dates prior to its incorporation as a town in 1727.

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