Ebenezer Hartshorn Queen Anne High Chest, ca. 1740

Value (2017) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
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GUEST:
It's been in the family for probably 200 years, or so? So just handed down from my father to me. It's been a working piece of furniture for all of its life. It's never been anything other than in a house doing what it's supposed to do. So it has a lot of blemishes and things on it that, from years of service.

APPRAISER:
Where is your family from?

GUEST:
Originally from the East Coast, the Hampton area of New Hampshire. This piece met up with us in, probably in the Machiasport, Maine, area.

APPRAISER:
In about what year, would you say?

GUEST:
At about 1790, at that time.

APPRAISER:
Okay, okay.

GUEST:
It had already been in existence for quite some time, I think.

APPRAISER:
Well, I would date the piece around 1740, probably made in the Charlestown-Boston area. Boston, at that time period, from about 1725 to about 1760, had more furniture makers than any city in America. Philadelphia was its closest competitor. There was about 224 registered people making furniture. And whoever put this together didn't do it singly. They did it with a group. So there would be a cabinet maker, a person who would make the case itself. This entire piece is walnut veneered with exotic veneers, so there'd be a veneerman who did it. A japanner, who would've gilded the two incredible carved shells. There would have been a carver, as well, on it. So all together, about five craftspeople making this. There is one very similar one in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
And on the back, on the lower case-- because of course, this is a high chest of drawers with a top and a bottom, it comes apart right here so you can move the two parts around-- theirs is signed "Ebenezer Hartshorn," so I am confident to say that this is probably a piece from his workshop. The MFA piece is signed 1739, so I would say 1740 or so, we're kind of close.

GUEST:
I would say so-- that's what we were thinking.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, so, early Boston furniture and super-high style. Very expensive piece when it was made. Someone had to pay extra for the carved shells. They paid extra for the compass inlay on the top of this piece, and then also on the sides.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The MFA piece has new legs on it. So I'm thinking that this piece, when we look at condition... Did your family ever do anything to it in terms of restoration?

GUEST:
Yes, unfortunately, there was some restoration done on the top part. Was sawn off in about the early 1800s, and it went in two different directions, so the top half went with one family member, and the bottom with another. The bottom half was painted green, and all of the brassware was removed.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
The bottom little finials and the top were replaced in probably about 1930 by my grandfather.

APPRAISER:
You're right, the brasses on the top of this case are original, and the brasses at the bottom are reproductions. But pretty good, though, when you look at them. They're a nice job, and I think the legs are not correct on this.

GUEST:
We've not been able to figure out what the legs would've been...

APPRAISER:
Just a padfoot. The value gets compromised, even though it was an expensive piece in its day.

GUEST:
Sure.

APPRAISER:
I would put an auction estimate in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 on it.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And the reason for that is, we can attribute this to a maker, and that's so, so important. A piece, all original, by this same maker, sold in 2012, and that brought about $60,000.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
So if we had the original bonnet, and if we had the original legs, it would be a much more important piece, but I still think it's an historical importance. It's just great.

GUEST:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2017)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Portland, OR (August 12, 2017)
Category
Furniture
Material
Walnut , Wood

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