Boston Queen Anne Lowboy, ca. 1760
This was at my mom's house. She got it from her mom, who bought it at an auction in Pasadena in the 1930s. That's all I know.
This is a piece that any student of early American furniture would recognize as being made in Boston. It's a piece that we would call a lowboy or a dressing table. It dates to about 1750 to '60, so it's a very early piece of furniture.
Typically, these were used in the bedchamber. They very often had a highboy or a high chest that went with them, a much larger piece. They often matched. They rarely stay together as a pair, so in today's world, dressing tables are sold separately from highboys. The wood is walnut. One thing that struck me about this piece when I looked at it is its originality. These pieces, because of their age and because they were used on a daily basis, tended to fall into disrepair. It's very common for the tops to be replaced, also for the hardware to be replaced. But this one is as original as we ever see. If we pull out a drawer... ...we can see it has these handmade nuts and one set of holes. So that's the original hardware, which is a nice feature.
It also has the original drop finials. Those are almost always missing or replaced. It does have one negative in terms of the condition, and that is this sat somewhere where it had very strong exposure to the sun for a long time, and it has bleached the color out of the finish. That can be corrected by a furniture conservator. They can feed some color back into it and make it look better. But if we pull out this drawer, you can see how dramatic it is. That's the color that it should be. This is walnut. Walnut shouldn't look as light as that, but the areas that have been exposed to the sun are much lighter. Some of the characteristics that make this a Boston piece would be this wonderful scoop-carved drawer with the fan carving. That is classically Boston. Also the shape of the apron, this shape and this scooped center here that corresponds to the fan drawer, also classically Boston. The shape of the legs, the fact that it has this bead molding connected to the case rather than the drawer, all things that associate it with Boston. This is a piece that at auction, I would estimate $18,000 to $20,000.
Excuse me? Wow. Um, whoa, that's amazing. I had no idea.
It's a piece that a few years ago when the market was a little stronger for American furniture would have brought an even higher price. So $18,000 to $20,000 in 2013 is a conservative number. If someone worked on the finish and improved it and made it look a little closer to what walnut should look like, you could raise that price a little bit more. But it's really a very nice example of a Boston dressing table.
Wow, thank you so much. I am... I'm thrilled.
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Last Tango in Halifax
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