Federal Walnut Document Chest

Value (2006) | $7,000 Retail
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GUEST:
This was in my mother's family. It was my mother's grandmother's. And I've always loved it. I had an uncle that used to sit on it.

APPRAISER:
He used to sit on, on this?

GUEST:
And put his socks on every morning.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
And take his shoes off, I'm sure, at night. Threw his dirty socks inside.

APPRAISER:
Inside there? I thought I, I thought I smelled something, I don't know. There you go, there you go. Yes, it's still got that scent.

GUEST:
But they say that you can see his little bottom end marks. You know, with some imagination,

APPRAISER:
I can imagine that.

GUEST:
I don't know if that's... My mother always said that this was used as a document box on the mantel in one of the bedrooms.

APPRAISER:
In one of the bedrooms, okay. Well, first of all, this piece is made in the tradition of Philadelphia. Philadelphia cabinetmakers, during the Federal Period when this was made-- 17, probably 90, okay, to about 1805-- were using inlay, like this light wood stringing. The piece itself is walnut with this wonderful light wood inlay, which is probably holly. These were made with a compass-- they took the compass, made the incision, and inlayed this. Also this banding, and coming down, this wonderful veneered skirt with flared French-style feet. So you have all these Philadelphia characteristics. Cabinetmakers moved west and then down the Shenandoah Valley, and then spread out. So they were making pieces in this style all through Virginia and Maryland. So it very well could be Virginia. It also could be Western Pennsylvania. Let's open the top up. You probably know that the hinges have been replaced, right?

GUEST:
Exactly.

APPRAISER:
And this has a little patch here, right?

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Where they and then... There's no patch there, as you may know. This piece of wood has been replaced right here. So the hinge broke. Somebody let this drop way before your uncle sat on it. And they replaced that little piece. Inside it looks so wonderful. The color in there is just great. It's really been used and it probably was a document box, but you could store almost anything in it. The fact that it's been used, the fact that when you close it back up, the stringing on the side and the front matches the stringing that's down at the bottom, we know that lid's original, okay?

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And when we turn it upside down, look at this wonderful oxidation here. Look at that nice color. A little chip in the plane that planed that board. All that's what we love to see. And do you see where this block fell off? This glue mark?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
That attached the bottom board to the front. And the witness mark matches between the back of the skirt and that bottom. So that's, that's evidence, that those were connected for 200 years or so. So we know it's right, we know it's a, a wonderful Federal piece. Now, I've talked to some of my colleagues. We've got a consensus here. Retail value on this little box, because of the wonderful inlay, because of the feet, because of the nice condition, I would say $7,000.

GUEST:
Ooh, thank you. That's pretty neat.

APPRAISER:
I tell you, I don't think your uncle would sit on it anymore if he knew that.

GUEST:
No, I don't think so.

APPRAISER:
No, I don't think so either. I don't think so.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Keno Auctions
New York, NY
Appraised value (2006)
$7,000 Retail
Event
Mobile, AL (July 08, 2006)
Period
Federal
Form
Chest
Material
Walnut

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