Ohio Cherry Bureau, ca. 1825

Value (2010) | $7,500 Insurance$8,000 Insurance

It's been in our family for a long time. My cousin Dorothy from Kansas gave it to me. I didn't like it at first, but now I do. We had a furniture repairman come to the house and he looked at it and he said, "Oh, this is North Carolina, 1800." I know it was made by a family member, and I went to my folks and asked them, "Did the family come from Carolina?" And sure enough, they did, from South Carolina in 1804. They got fed up with slavery. One of my relatives was a reverend who was preaching against slavery, and that was not taken too well there. And so he moved the church to Ohio.

Do you know where in Ohio, roughly?

It was Brown County, right across the Ohio River. And so then the family became very involved in the Underground Railroad.


So, I was curious, is this piece really from North Carolina? And if so, then I guess it came through that history.

The information that you're giving me now is tremendously helpful because we can locate it through its history. And then we can start looking at the object as well. One without the other doesn't always work. It's a distinctly regional piece. And I think that Brown County, Ohio history is exactly where it was made.


It's cherry and poplar, which are deeply indigenous woods there. Everything's cherry and poplar, a little maple thrown in. When you look at the feet, with those turned legs and that spiral turning, now, that is a feature we see very typically coming out of the Philadelphia school, but that's only one element. But you see how we have this recessed section in the center and how these stand out slightly? That's an unusual feature. It's not usually done like that. It breaks up the facade. It's a visually very nice trick. It gives us a little bit of lift in here, a little more verticality. And the cool thing is-- I'm going to open this door, show everybody in here-- we have a nice set of drawers. Now, if this was an eastern piece, my first sense would be that this would be what we'd call a butler's bureau. You'd pull this out, the lid would come down and there'd be a desk section in there. And especially with this arrangement of the drawers over here, that even more so. But it isn't, so we're just going to call it a bureau. It's just a plain drawer with some really nice fan carving here. And then we get up here and we have what we'd consider a splashboard. This scrolling in here is very distinctive. Wouldn't see that at all in the East. I love how when these guys are out in what is frontier land, they don't have access to all the same features that somebody, say, in Boston or Philadelphia does. And so they have to adapt and they have to make it work. If this were made in the East, this splashboard would be solid, and these side arms and these turnings would actually be brass. And, of course, the carving on this is crisp as the day it was made. It's fabulous. Now, in the East, this would probably start out as inlay. But by this time, it's done as beautiful empire carving. And the other thing that's very distinctive and helps me date it is the use of these glass knobs.


They are original, rare survivals, and that helps me date it to the mid-1820s, when the glass knobs come in.


So the only thing he had in the kind of latest fashion was the knobs. Everything else he's adapting and interpreting. If this were something that was a New York piece, there would be a lot of them. If it was sold in New York as a New York piece, let's say, or a Pennsylvania piece, at most it would bring a couple thousand dollars. But given the fact that we know its history, we know it's that early Ohio furniture from Brown County, for insurance purposes, I'd be appraising it at about $7,500 to $8,000.

Whoa. Boy, I'm surprised.

Appraisal Details

J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
Baltimore, MD
Appraised value (2010)
$7,500 Insurance$8,000 Insurance
San Diego, CA (June 12, 2010)

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