Dunlap High Chest of Drawers, ca. 1780

Value (2009) | $5,000 Auction

GUEST:
This was a family piece. It belonged to a grandmother from Shenandoah, Iowa, and we inherited it in about '86.

APPRAISER:
Do you have any idea where it's made?

GUEST:
I think it's American.

APPRAISER:
Well, you brought in a New Hampshire high chest of drawers with cabriole legs. This is attributable to the Dunlap family of southern New Hampshire. There's a whole group of Dunlaps. This was probably made by Major John Dunlap. Made about 1780 or '85. Now, Major John Dunlap is a jack-of-all-trades. He was trading cattle, he was bartering bushels of corn for furniture. He was a house builder; I mean, he was doing everything. And this is a more remote area of the country, so he used local maple. And see that striping? That's tiger maple we see. The great thing about a tiger maple tree is you don't know a tree is a tiger maple tree until you cut it down. If you go in the forest and pick 20, one might be a tiger maple. He was also working in a purely American style in terms of the very low cabriole legs. See the angular knees, see that beautiful shape there with these wonderful returns. Shape skirt-- signature John Dunlap. Pinwheels. This is signature John Dunlap, these fans, which are on the bottom section and the upper. So, he's got a great style. Beautiful proportions. In terms of condition of this, these handles are bigger on the bottom, and they're actually original.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
I looked inside, they've got the original nuts on the inside. These are smaller.

GUEST:
Are these original?

APPRAISER:
These are original, too. This is a top of a high chest of drawers from another high chest.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
And this is the bottom of a high chest of drawers from another high chest. And they were married together, married in unholy matrimony. One way we can tell that is to look at these moldings here. The back of this molded edge, it's fresh wood. And the top is totally original, oxidized nut brown color. So somebody had to put a new molding to accommodate the shape. That's one way we tell. The other is the bottom section is dark and very oxidized pine in the backboard and the top is light. So they had different environments they were in. Now the other thing is, if you pull out this drawer, please, look at this. We're going to turn this. These are the kerf marks where they cut the dovetails on the side. And the saw would go in just a little bit. Each cabinetmaker had his own techniques. This was made by John Dunlap, but he worked at different times in different ways. Take out this drawer. Look at these. Look at those, he's got giant kerf marks where the saw really went in. Also, this is a very thick board. On the bottom, we've got a much thinner board. Now, value-wise, what do you think the value would be on this?

GUEST:
What I want it to be or what do I think? (both laughing) $20,000, maybe?

APPRAISER:
At the most. As a marriage, because it's associated, I'd put a fair market value on it of about $5,000.

GUEST:
Aww.

APPRAISER:
But, but, had it been originally top and bottom together, it would be about $25,000 or even $30,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And it's been refinished.

GUEST:
Ooh.

APPRAISER:
Now, and if we look up here in this edge, you can see there's the original red stain. They would actually stain this red to make it look richer, like a mahogany.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
If that red had been on there, it'd be worth $100,000.

GUEST:
Well, it is what it is, though.

APPRAISER:
But it is what it is. And it's a beautiful piece, and thanks for bringing it in today.

GUEST:
Well, you're welcome.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Leslie Keno Art Advisory
Waccabuc, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$5,000 Auction
Event
Phoenix, AZ (August 01, 2009)
Period
18th Century
Material
Maple

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